She's not just an author, she's a guru and a friend. Her insight is amazing, and her ability to touch lives is part of what makes her work accessible yet highly intellectual. I respectfully bow to Ms. Walker's artistry and am thankful for yet another novel that is part scripture, part story.
Alice Walker has created a work that ranks among her finest achievements: the story of a woman's spiritual adventure that becomes a passage through time, a quest for self, and a collision with love.
Years ago, I read THE COLOR PURPLE and was deeply impressed. This book, NOW IS THE TIME TO OPEN YOUR HEART, is one of her latest and is wonderful! It's very introspective and thought-provoking! I post it because it's a story I have to share with others! And it will stay with you forever!
I love her works and this one is no exception. Wonderful story!
heartfelt typical for Alice Walker
I loved The Color Purple and Possessing the Secret of Joy, but I could not get into this book.
Starting a book by Alice Walker reminds me of returning back to my sacred space. No one knows about it, and here I find that precious nectar that feeds the heart. Alice Walker manages to put to words that magical formula that binds the heart and the soul in an eternal dance. In this novel about Kate and Yolo, who are looking for something deeper and more true in themselves and their relationship to their world, I found myself pulled into a journey of mystery that ultimately leads to self-discovery. Yolo and Kate find new ways of being themselves and therefore a new way of being together that leads to a kind of union and marraige ceremony neither had even imagined before.
Thanks, Alice Walker.
This is my first Alice Walker novel, so my expectations might have been a bit too high. I think if it had been a first novel from a new author, I would have been pleasantly surprised, but when I picked this one up I was kind of hoping for a dazzling work from a master author late in her career.
I liked reading a novel about a woman who is over 40, unmarried, black, confident, and not yearning for a romantic relationship. It seems rare to read about an older woman on a quest outside of chicklit or romance, and I was thankful for that.
However, the novel on its own was just okay for me. I am interested in quests, spiritual awakenings, and consciousness-altering experiences, but I found the novel's loose structure (I didn't easily follow the jumps through time and location) and lack of focus to be confusing. The novel felt ethereal and abstract, which was worse when some of the story was told through a dream or a parable. I found myself wanting more detail about people's lives and experiences, but the text hovered in a meta space, describing each character's spiritual revelation without giving me much to hold onto about the character him/herself. As one reviewer commented, "Every character has an epiphany on pretty much every page." And after the epiphany, we generally don't see that character again: it turns out they were arguments for the novel's philosophical point more than they were characters.
It's hard to even say if Kate is transformed over the course of the novel because we don't know her at the beginning and we don't know much more about her at the end. Overall, it had the effect of a poem that didn't connect, and I got the sense that while she was writing this, Walker wasn't that interested in writing a novel. At points the book felt like it was trying very hard to be wise, and I would rather have received its wisdom through the story than directly (mostly from the shaman Armando). The novel repeatedly tries to push individual insights (such as that Rick's spiritual pain comes from his family history of selling addictive street drugs to black people) into the framework of the novel's argument, which is that our disconnection with the spiritual world (called "grandmother" throughout) has led to the moral depravity of our culture and the suffering of the most vulnerable. I'm not sure how this applied to Kate, who is not vulnerable, or even particularly in need of wisdom at the beginning of the novel. She is already out of the relationship that she felt was suffocating her and into a new one, and she is apparently completely free of responsibilities in her life like childcare or employment. She doesn't seem to be in any type of crisis, so she doesn't seem to have a reason for taking a break from her life to go on an Amazonian spiritual retreat. But like I said, we don't really get to know her. Maybe she just felt compelled?
Overall, I found it hard to connect with this book enough to like it. I think I would have preferred an essay from Walker on why we should collectively embrace native Peruvian approaches to nature and spiritual in order to heal ourselves. By framing that idea in a novel I felt she was trying to cover the argument -- which is what she really wanted to talk about -- with fiction, and it felt flat.