I wanted to like this book more because I am so intrigued by James Baldwin, but it was not an easy read. The semi-autobiographical stories about his family's beginnings are definitely interesting, but about 1/3 of the book was a bunch of religiousy prose that I could not make sense of or get into. Still an amazing writer though.
This rating system doesn't work for me on this book. It's beautifully written and is a powerful image of the intricate latticework of emotions, culture, and family that make up John's world in a northern city in the early 20th century. I DO understand why some people turn to religion for hope in hard times and trying circumstances. Certainly the folks who inhabit this story have a need for the hope that there's something better later on; however, I'm not a fan of the hypocrisy of religion, those who use religion to justify their actions, or those who ascribe everything in their lives to some all-powerful, all-knowing force. Gabriel, in particular, rankled, which I'm sure Mr. Baldwin intended, but so did so many of the other characters' actions and attitudes. And for John, I almost cried at the ending, and not with happiness. So with all the sermonizing and testifying to wade through, I didn't "like" this book, but I'm glad I read it.
Powerful, powerful, powerful. Muscular and poetic prose. Leaves a lasting impression.
I really enjoyed this book and the way James Baldwin writes is amazing. I love how poetic and descriptive he is.
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