My pick for a book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist for the 2018 Reading Challenge was The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. I chose this book off a Goodreads list when I went looking for books that meet this prompt.
The Color Purple is an American classic. It graces any number of “must read” lists, including the recently released Great American Read list hosted by PBS. It is both a beloved book and a controversial one, having also spent time on banned book lists since its publication.
This book is written in the epistolary style which I discovered earlier this year, I don’t particularly care for. But I think it works well for this story. To begin, the main character, Celie, is writing her story in letters addressed to God. She later shifts to writing her letters to her sister, Nettie.
In this book, Walker addresses a number of themes such as race and sexuality. Set in the pre-civil rights south, these often manifest in violent ways. I was particularly interested in the parts written from the perspective of Celie’s sister, Nettie, letters written from her experience as a black missionary in Africa.
Full of violence and abuse, it isn’t exactly an easy story to read, but it is well written. Given its status as a classic, I wanted to like this book more than I did. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t completely wowed by it. It might be one I’d appreciate more on a second read. It is definitely worth it, however, if you haven’t read it yet.