Author: John Steinbeck
Publisher: Penguin (Steinbeck Centennial Edition)
Publish Date: 1939
Why You're Reading This Book:
- You need more classics in your life.
- You want a current event appropriate read.
From Goodreads.com: "John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression follows the western movement of one family and a nation in search of work and human dignity. Perhaps the most American of American classics.
The novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of sharecroppers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in financial and agricultural industries. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other "Okies", they sought jobs, land, dignity and a future. When preparing to write the novel, Steinbeck wrote: "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression and its effects]." The book won Steinbeck a large following among the working class, perhaps due to the book's sympathy to the workers' movement and its accessible prose style."
My Two Cents:
This is one of the classics that I've wanted to read for awhile and I'm glad that I got to read it! Especially with everything going on in the world today, this was an especially good choice for right now.
I felt bad for the Joad family. They're forced off the land that they had been farming for ages. It wasn't a great existence but it was a certain existence. Now nothing is certain for any of the members of the family. They follow the great migration west to California, the land of promise. They believe that they're going to be able to find work and begin to really live the American dream. They find that the American dream is much further away than what they originally thought.
I got thoroughly sucked into the story of the Joad family as they struggled to make their way across the country. I kept wishing and hoping that something would turn around for the family but it was not to be. The Great Depression was hard for everyone but it was definitely harder for people like sharecroppers (like the Joads) who just about lost everything that they possibly could. This is Steinbeck's commentary on this dark period of American history and the inequality present. He doesn't shy away from talking about any of the issues.
One of the most intriguing parts of the book was the very last scene (which I won't giveaway because you all need to read this book). This is a scene that I think will probably stick in my mind for forever. To me, it almost seemed to be a glimmer of hope. Perhaps it was the idea that even when things are absolutely terrible for ourselves, we still have the ability to be kind to each other and to realize when we can step in and help. That's a beautiful thing.
Bottom line: This is a classic American novel that should not be missed!