John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath

Damn, what a book. I can’t front on all accolades it took, it really is that great. Heavy to digest but captivating and easy to read.

I like the structure where the main story following the Joad family is broken up with smaller chapters providing general snapshots of The Great Depression era. The way death and suffering occur on almost every turn and how it’s handled is brutal. Certain sentences read like a punch in the gut.

Small details like Tom’s hat and scenes like fixing the car or kids seeing a toilet for the first time made everything vivid and very real.

Political stance with a strong critique of government and US industry didn’t connect as much (even though modern-day parallels can still be made). And for biblical undertones, I cared even less. But I never felt the book being too preachy or pathetic. Every layer is executed perfectly.

The Joad family speaks very limited dialogs using crude language. They really sound like poor, uneducated farmers but still come off sympathetic. While the last scene made me a bit uneasy, I like the contrast between different paths the central characters (Tom and Ma Joad) take but the ultimate convergence of their values and purpose.