Possessing the Secrets of Joy
by Alice Walker
Alice Walker tells the tale of Tashi, whom readers where introduced to in both The Color Purple and The Temple of My Familiar, and how she deals with the aftermath of her female circumcision.
I will admit right off the bat that I do not read a lot of literary fiction. I have read my fare share (one per year of so) but my genre is romance and I am pretty dogmatic about it reading it. However, there are times when an author tackles an issue that I am curious about or interested in. Female circumcision and the treatment of women in general are always of interest to me. Therefore, when a friend recommended this book, I decided to take a peak.
I took a peak and did not stop. Walker’s words are simple. She does not meander around about how the sky looked or the way the leaves fell to ground just right. However, that is where the simplicity ends. The imagery that she conveys with her simple words is astounding. The story is not linear at all. It jumps from past to present as easily as the page turns. Admittedly, there were times when I had no idea what was going on. Nevertheless, I read on avidly.
What struck me the most about Walker’s Possessing the Secrets of Joy was the way her writing pulled my in. I believe I felt exactly what she wanted me to feel when she wanted me to feel at. There were moments when I was just outraged and other moments when I was filled with sorrow for the state of things as she presented them.
The last few chapters were a bit unexpected as she took the story in a direction that I did not at all remotely anticipate. Walker interwove the African AIDS issue into the story so subtly that it took me, as the reader, a little of guard. Even though the people she wrote of were characters in a book and I did not personally know them, I was moved by their existence and inevitability of their deaths.
Most of the time, I read for entertainment purposes and to escape from the everyday; however, when you can read a book that, at the end, makes you feel compelled to learned more about an issue or even moves you to become proactive (however big or small) in the issue, it is a book not only worth the time it took to read it but also worth a little more time to spread the word for others to read as well.
So, if you have not already read this book, take some time in your reading schedule to fit it in. The journey will be well worth it.
My last Alice Walker post