Rosa Guy Alice Walker - Essay

Alice Walker

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

I feel especially blessed when reading the books of Virginia Hamilton, Toni Cade Bambara, Lucille Clifton, June Jordan, Louise Merriweather, Toni Morrison and other fine engagé black women writers; for I am thinking of a young black girl who spent the first 20 years of her life without seeing a single book in which the heroine was a person like herself….

[Now, with books like] Rosa Guy's heart-slammer, "The Friends," I relive those wretched, hungry-for-heroines years and am helped to verify the existence and previous condition of myself….

[The] struggle that is the heart of this very important book [is] the fight to gain perception of one's own real character; the grim struggle for self-knowledge and the almost killing internal upheaval that brings the necessary growth of compassion and humility and courage, so that friendship (of any kind, but especially between those of notable economic and social differences) can exist.

This book is called a "juvenile." So be a juvenile while you read it. Rosa Guy will give you back a large part of the memory of those years that you've been missing.

Alice Walker, in her review of "The Friends," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1973 by The New York Times Company: reprinted by permission), November 4, 1973, p. 26.