Review: If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

Good Evening All!

I’ve wrote more blog posts this weekend than I think I’ve ever had in a weekend. I’ve managed to finish off two books early this weekend and then finish another that I started yesterday. I love cold weather and being stuck in the house, it gives me some serious downtime to get lost in a book and that’s exactly what happened withΒ If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin.

This is a story of love; between two young black people in 1970’s America, between sisters and between a mother, father and their daughter. Through the voice of Tish, this story tells of a romance and deep love between two young people when all of the odds are against them. Tish is pregnant with Fonny’s baby, but Fonny is imprisoned for a terrible crime that he did not commit. The families of both Tish and Fonny are determined to clear Fonny’s name and reunite the two young lovers before the birth of their child, but the path to get there is not quite as easy as it should be.

I read this book without reading any sort of synopsis or blurb therefore I had no idea what to expect. What I ended up getting was a story of love, despair, family and injustice. Although this is a work of fiction, it is a story that resonates all too well with far too many individuals and families; both during the 1970’s and to this day.

The book is written from the perspective of Tish, however I felt like I understood the feelings of every character. Maybe understood is a far stretch (as I certainly didn’t understand the actions of Mrs Hunt and her daughters) but I definitely felt exposed to the feelings of each character. The obvious empathy would go to Tish, however I think I empathised most with her parents; Sharon and Joseph. To have a daughter so young exposed to such heartache and injustice seems unfathomable. I don’t know that anyone reading this book could put themselves into their shoes and have a clear vision of what they would do.

Although this book wasn’t concluded with a clear ending, giving us readers an outcome that allowed us to have peace of mind or sleepless nights, the ending is so true to reality. There is no end to stories like this. Stories like this are true even to this day and there really is no end point. There’s no justice and there is often no happy ending and it is shameful to think that we live in a world where this is possible. This books is as relevant now as it was in 1974 when it was first published. However uncomfortable and emotional this book makes it’s readers, it is brilliant.



β€œOne of the most terrible, most mysterious things about a life is that a warning can be heeded only in retrospect: too late.” – If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

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