Go Tell it on the Mountain
Prior to reading this book, I knew that James Baldwin was one of the leading voices of the civil rights movement in the United States. However, I did not know what to expect when I decided to read this novel, but I sure am glad that I read it.
Taking place in the mid-twentieth century, this novel is the coming-of-age story of John Grimes, a brilliant teenage boy who wants nothing more than to feel a sense of belonging in his religion-fueled life where his father is a pastor. Throughout the novel, John struggles between intellect and religion, and hate for his father, yet longing to gain his father's love and approval.
What I enjoyed about this novel is that although it focuses on the life of young John, Baldwin also narrates the story from the perspective of key adults in John's life. In doing so, Baldwin creates complex characters through whose voices readers are able to see the debilitating effects of slavery and racism, which have contributed to the circumstances under which John finds himself.
At only 277 pages, this novel is one of the best novels I have ever read. If you want to understand the black struggle in America, reading this novel is a good start, as it is sadly still relevant, almost 70 years later.