Zora Neale Hurston and her times come alive in this introduction for young readers.
Living in the all-black town of Eatonville, Fla., Zora Neale Hurston never had to face the racism of her times. She grew up proud and confident, believing “the moon followed her wherever she went.” Early on, she cultivated the dream of becoming a famous writer, and though she faced many obstacles along the way, she succeeded with Their Eyes Were Watching God, which has sold over five million copies and is now a fixture of high school and college curricula. The volume is nicely designed, and the many photographs (captions not seen) make it feel like a Hurston scrapbook, though there are too many pages of dense text unbroken by images. Somehow, though, Hurston’s odyssey—through the Harlem Renaissance and the Prohibition era, as well as through the South collecting stories from former slaves, lumber workers near the Everglades and voodoo practitioners in New Orleans—comes off as dry and not especially interesting. Audience is an issue, too, since the volume is aimed at young readers who won’t have heard of Hurston and won’t find books by her for their age group. A work aimed at an older teen audience might have better hit the mark.
An adequate introduction to a remarkable 20th-century author. (two folktales, timeline, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 9-12)