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Paperback If Beale Street Could Talk Book

ISBN: 0307275930

ISBN13: 9780307275936

If Beale Street Could Talk

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Book Overview

A stunning love story about a young Black woman whose life is torn apart when her lover is wrongly accused of a crime--a moving, painful story, so vividly human and so obviously based on reality that it strikes us as timeless (The New York Times Book Review).

One of the best books Baldwin has ever written--perhaps the best of all. --The Philadelphia Inquirer

Told through the eyes of Tish, a...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

James Baldwin is a national treasure.

His ability to write a woman’s perspective was unbelievable. This is one of my favorite books all time.

If Beale Street Could Talk . . . would America hear it?

It is always a great disappointment and a tremendous joy to read Baldwin. The author's ability to bring the experiences of African American life and the circumstances under which those lives are lived here in America is a joyful, although difficult, reading experience. The disappointment comes in realizing that although Baldwin's canon of work spanned the late 1960's through 1970's, many of the conditions that he writes about so candidly still exist in 2003. The novel is, at its core, a beautiful love story. Not the kind where man meets woman, they fall in love, marry, have children and move into their lovely suburban home adorned with white picket fence and a two car garage. For that American dream was rarely the experience of many African Americans during the period in which the novel is set. In this depiction of the American dream, Tish and Fonny meet as children, grow up and in love, all the while aspiring to create a life together. Their hopes for the future are destroyed when Fonny is jailed for a rape he did not commit. With classic Baldwin insight, the novel reveals how individual, systematic and internalized racial hatred ruined the lives of two lovers and their families. From the white cop that set Fonny up, to the court system that held him down (although he had an alibi) to the family that turned their backs on him, all contributed to his destruction. When Baldwin isn't rendering a scathing critique of America's racial injustices, he's rebuking the unquestioning manner that many African American's cling to religion in hopes of obtaining freedom here on earth. Although at times it is difficult to distinguish the characters' voice from the author's, the novel truthfully depicts a fictional account of the realities of America's racism. I thought the ending was a bit fatalistic but decided that is exactly the point that Baldwin was making about the future of America in the absence of full equality for all of her citizens. "If Beale Street Could Talk" is as tragic as it is loving. It's a great read that serves to remind and encourage. Highly Recommended.

A Love Story Among Racism in 1970s New York

I have been on a quest to read James Baldwin's book-reread those I read in the 70s and search out those I have missed. And what a fruitful treasure hunt it has been. The man was prolific and was a bonafide genius. I have always listed him as among my favorite authors but in the new millennium I have gained a new appreciation. I will venture to say he is my favorite writer of all time. If Beale Street Could Talk is a lesson in the injustices of America that existed in the 70s In New York and is still indicative of that great city today. Trish and Fonny are young lovers who believe in the American dream of marriage and family. Best friends since they were young children, they are aware of the racism that surrounds them as being black in America but nevertheless believe they have what it takes to make it, their love. That is until the day Fonny is arrested and thrown in jail for rape. What follows is a horror that tears at the reader's soul as we go through the pain and frustration with these characters of trying to prove a young black male's innocence, a near impossibility at this time period in our history. Trish is pregnant and working at a dead-end job but has the full support of her Renaissance family. Fonny, on the other hand, only has the support of his wearied father, who once owned a neighborhood business and now is subject to working at a job where he is made to feel less than a man. His wife is self-righteous and unapproachable while his grown daughters are frustrated "old maids" who with their imagined bourgeois airs have tried and convicted their brother. This story is a testament to the human spirit, of how a people prevail against all odds, telling a story that is so familiar to the Blues the title of the book symbolizes. Another James Baldwin classic, another American classic, not to be missed. Dera Williams APOOO BookClub

Review of If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk written by James Baldwin, was a great novel that portrayed many things nicely. It showed the horrors of "white" society, the undeniable love between the two main characters, Fonny and Tish, and last but not least, it showed the bond between family members during hard times. It is a book that many can relate to and I really enjoyed it. The love shown throughout the novel was magnificent. I mean, how many people are so head over heals for each other that they can laugh and make love at the same time, very few. The fact that Fonny and Tish know they both have each other to count on is the only thing that helps then survive. Fonny would crumble in jail if he didn't see Tish's beautiful face coming to visit him everyday. The only reason that Tish is able to see Fonny is because her family cares for his well being. After reading this book, I realized that I have never really seen so much love and care in one piece of literature. Despite all this love and emotions, there is a dark side to the novel. This "dark side" is what makes all the characters that much stronger. The evil, racist society seems to be set against Fonny and Tish and all of their dreams. However, it must be remembered that "what can get worst can get better," pg.132. The book shows that the American society is not exactly up to pan. In fact one lady in the book says she has been in America a long time and she hopes she does not die in America. Tish's mother also says, "whoever discovered America deserves to be dragged home in chains to die." Inspite of the evil in the book, it was still really good and interesting. The book makes you want to read on and find out what is going to happen next. The ending is left like an open book, which means the reader can interpret the ending in whichever way they chose. One can view it as pessimistic, optimistic or both. The novel itself is extremely well written and makes for a good read. If Beale Street Could Talk is by far one of the best books I've read this year.

It's All About the Love

Langston Hughes wrote, "Folks, I'm telling you/Living is hard/Birthing is mean/So get yourselves/a little loving/in between." Hughes's poem kind of captures If Beale Street Could Talk.The novel is told by Tish, a nineteen-year-old African American in Harlem in the 1970's. She is deeply in love with Fonny and is pregnant by him, but just about everything has gone wrong for the couple. Fonny is in jail because he has been falsely accussed of rape because he is black. Fonny, Tish, and Tish's family (plus Fonny's father) all love each other, and the family rallies behind Fonny to get him free. They must steal to raise money and even go on a trip to Puerto Rico to confront the woman accussing Fonny.The characterizations in the novel are marvelous, and the storytelling is superb. Baldwin tells If Beale Street Could Talk in the most beautiful prose. It is almost musical. I also love his many allusions to music. If Beale Street Could Talk is an outstanding novel which can stand with almost any of the twentieth century. It can really be an important novel for teaching young adults about racism and the power of love between a family. If Beale Street Could Talk is a true classic.

If Beale Street Could Talk Mentions in Our Blog

If Beale Street Could Talk in 10 Notable Books Turning 50 This Year
10 Notable Books Turning 50 This Year
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • January 14, 2024

It's interesting to look back at pop culture that withstands the test of time. It's time for our annual roundup of some of the enduring titles hitting the half-century mark this year. Here are ten memorable books published in 1974.

If Beale Street Could Talk in What's Leaving Netflix and Hulu in September?
What's Leaving Netflix and Hulu in September?
Published by ThriftBooks Team • August 29, 2023
Every month, streaming services remove some of their offerings to make room for new ones. But that doesn't mean we can't watch them anymore. Here is a list of titles being cut by Hulu and Netflix in September. Order your own copy to keep watching.
If Beale Street Could Talk in What's Leaving Netflix and HULU in April?
What's Leaving Netflix and HULU in April?
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • March 28, 2023

Every month, streaming services remove some of their offerings to make room for new ones. But that doesn't mean we can't watch them anymore. Here is a list of titles being cut by HULU and Netflix in April. Order your own copy and keep watching.  

If Beale Street Could Talk in Remembering James Baldwin
Remembering James Baldwin
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • August 01, 2021

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924. Though he died at age 63, he left behind a powerful legacy. His provocative essays introduced fresh ways of thinking about society. His fiction and poetry broke new ground, exploring themes around masculinity, sexuality, race, and class.

If Beale Street Could Talk in Oscar Season is Officially Underway! Here Are the Book-Based Contenders
Oscar Season is Officially Underway! Here Are the Book-Based Contenders
Published by Beth Clark • December 11, 2018

The National Board of Review Awards, Independent Filmmaker Project Gotham Awards, and People’s Choice Awards officially kick off Oscar Season, so here are the literary-based winners and potential Academy contenders.

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