I stumbled upon Zora Neale Hurston's cutting edge 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God via this list by the Radcliffe Publishing Course. I had never heard about the book before, but it grabbed me by the throat in such a way that I rushed through it on Sunday.
At the tender age of 16, the free-spirited Janie Crawford is forced into marriage by her grandmother. Her initially-tender husband, Logan, becomes increasingly brute with her, and so one day she disillusionedly decides to escape with the suave and ambitious Joe Starks. Janie soon realizes that he views her strictly as a trophy, and when Joe dies after 20 years of stifling marriage, she is finally a free woman. After a few months, Janie loses hear heart to the vibrant Tea Cake, and now she finally knows true love. But God has the final say.
The narrative of Janie will capture you from the very start. Hurston's writing is poetic and full of imagery. The story bubbles with beauty and wisdom, and even though the phonetically written dialogues might be frustrating at times, Their Eyes Were Watching God is a timeless story about the ripening of a voiceless teen into an emancipated woman.