Alice Walker: A Life | Evelyn White

In this vibrant narrative White relies heavily on interviews with Alice Walker (b. 1944), her family and friends, the stories are always told in a historical context. Walker’s childhood as a daughter of Georgia sharecroppers is framed by what it meant to be a poor black female in the Jim Crow South. White particularly focuses on an accident that transforms the eight-year-old Walker from talkative and precocious to introverted and sad. Walker was shot with a BB gun and left disfigured and blind in one eye, and her father was refused a ride to transport the injured girl into town and swindled out of $250 by a white doctor. These events, according to White, brought the young Walker to a new level of understanding of the inhumanity of Southern racism and later moved her to search and reveal, through her writings, the depths of human suffering. This understanding also drove Walker to become active in various causes, most notably the Civil Rights and black feminist movements. From beginning to end, White (The Black Women’s Health Book), in her first biography, meticulously traces and analyzes the stages of Walker’s life, emphasizing the impact on and importance of her literature in American culture.

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