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Zora!: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by…

Zora!: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

by Dennis Brindell Fradin

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Zora! is one of the best young adult history books I have ever had the pleasure to read. It is coauthored by Dennis Brindell Fradin, award winning author of more than 220 young adult books, and his frequent collaborator and wife, Judith Bloom Fradin.

This book is well-researched, and includes excellent citations as well as a timeline, and information to help readers find further resources. It is divided into chapters. The authors even touch upon inaccuracies in previous biographical works on Hurston, while providing explanations for the many mistakes other researchers have made along the way in unpacking Hurston's complex web of fudged truths - a web perhaps created out of economic necessity.

Extensive excerpts from Huston's own works really bring the subject matter to life, and underscore for more advanced readers the sophistication and genius of her writing, both creative and academic. The biography covers the span of her life, from birth to death, as well as the Hurston revival that came in the 1970s, decades after her passing.

The authors do not shy away from the fact Hurston was a controversial figure in African American society and politics, though they do present the material perhaps less bluntly that one would expect in a book written for adults. Overall, the writing is clear, and even difficult points are easy to understand. Additionally, the text is written with no-holds-barred in a way that honors Hurston's work and spirit. It incorporates photographs and primary documents, further enriching the book.

Zora! provides an excellent jumping-off point for teachers hoping to collaborate outside their specialties within the realm of the humanities, as it incorporates history, creative writing, folklore, anthropology, economics, and even playwriting. Alice Walker's famous essay on Hurston could be incorporated as an additional nonfiction resource. Also, for more intrepid teachers, Zora! provides an opportunity to discuss the complex history of racial politics in America, which is an inextricable part of any examination of Hurston's life. ( )
  EBolles | Mar 15, 2017 |
This biography would be good to pair with the William Allen White nominee, Zora and Me. ( )
  saillergirl | Jan 18, 2016 |
  Bookman1954 | Oct 21, 2015 |
An exceptional portrait of the remarkably prolific, peripatetic author and folklorist. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
As a middle and high school teacher, I would use this book. I would use the book in my classroom library, and use it as a source to depict the life and times of famous African American writers in our country. I may use this book as a pairing with the Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Are Watching God, or I could use it as an option for young readers to appreciate the hardship many writers need to go through to pursue a writing career. I may even use excerpt of the books to introduce topics such as the Harlem Renaissance, plagiarism, the 1930s, or the Black experience in the North.

I chose the non-fiction book, Zora! The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin. This book is a non-fiction book that utilizes documents, journals, diaries, and albums to present their information. Although Fradin and Fradin could not gather first-hand accounts of the famous author, significant portions of the book used first hand accounts including compilation of Zora Neal Hurston’s letters edited by Carla Kaplin, a compilation of letters by Zora’s closest friend for many years, Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston’s own autobiography Dust Tracks on the Road, and several of Ms. Neale’s own works. The images presented in the book accurately depict the time and support the information given, including pictures of friends and relatives, objects related to Zora’s occupations, places where she lived, images from her carrier as a playwright, and captions of personal quotes derived from newspaper articles, collections and archives dedicated to preserving the life of Zora Neale Hurston. Secondary sources include biographies written by Robert E. Hemenway, which was named one of the New York Times' Best Books of 1978, Valerie Boyd whose work of the author was critically acclaimed, and Lucy Anne Hurston, Zora’s niece. The book is written in charter-length format, inserts Zora’s own writing, and although no notes from the authors are presented, the book provides a timeline, chapter-by-chapter source notes, bibliography, image credits, and an index. ( )
  apandrow | Nov 5, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547006950, Hardcover)

Zora Neale Hurston was confident, charismatic, and determined to be extraordinary.
As a young woman, Hurston lived and wrote alongside such prominent authors as
Langston Hughes and Alain Locke during the Harlem Renaissance. But unfortunately,
despite writing the luminary work Their Eyes Were Watching God, she was always short
of money. Though she took odd jobs as a housemaid and as the personal assistant to
an actress, Zora often found herself in abject poverty. Through it all, Zora kept writing.
And though none of her books sold more than a thousand copies while she was alive,
she was rediscovered a decade later by a new generation of readers, who knew they
had found an important voice of American Literature.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:43 -0400)

A tribute to the life and achievements of the Civil Rights activist and acclaimed author examines such topics as the poverty that marked her life, her relationships with such contemporaries as Langston Hughes and Alain Locke, and the posthumous recognition of her considerable talents.… (more)

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