Now is the Time to Open Your Heart- Alice Walker

For months he’d felt, every time he held her, a kind of humming coming from her body. A buzzing. Energy being amassed,stored, building to the bursting point.– Alice Walker, Now is the Time to Open Your Heart

An intriguing tale which I’m not sure everyone will like as much as Walker’s other books, but one I felt I came across at the right time.

This story follows the journeys of middle-aged lovers Kate and Yolo, who go on separate trips to the Amazonian rainforest and Hawaii respectively, trips on which they hope to reconnect with themselves and others. Kate has had several unfulfilling marriages, and  I followed her story a lot more closely than Yolo’s. Kate meets with a shaman who helps her through her issues, a major one being  the fear of aging in a world that values youth:

“Gray, said Cheryl. Gray had such terrible associations, I used to think. It was the color of blandness, dullness. Lifelessness. But then I began to notice stones and water, and gray skies, not to complain about but to appreciate. If you’ve ever lived through a drought you appreciate grey skies. Rain. Rain is gray, she said.”

Walker often puts my thoughts in words. Recently the news has been full of Ferguson, the Human Zoo, and other negative news facing marginalized communities.  As such, I am grateful to Walker for touching on  many themes such as colonialism, exotification, the legacy of slavery, and racism, things a lot of people don’t like to talk about. Like I’ve been saying to anyone who will listen, Walker is one of the most honest, authentic writers I’ve ever come across. You can feel her desire to tell the blunt truth and to give a voice to people who might not have it. Saartje (Sara) Baartman is one of those who she gave a voice to, the “Hottentot Venus” from South Africa who was paraded  around Europe while people ogled her “exotic” body.

In Walker’s words you can feel her love of the world and her desire for women to embrace themselves and heal from abuse. As in the other Walker books I’ve read, I learned a lot of history. Walker educates us on the plights affecting Native populations all around the world; Hawaii and Australia  in particular.  Alice Walker preaches  being in touch with oneself, with others,  and with the land.

Beautiful writing, tough, visceral subject matter at times; ethereal characters. Walker’s fiction illuminates reality.

Despite the hippyish vibe, I am giving it 5 stars.

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