This week has been a busy one! I have been working on so many projects for school, along with reading up a storm! This week, I have been reading two novels. When I was reading these two books, Go Tell It On The Mountain (1953) and Love Is A Revolution (early 2021), I never expected them to have so much in common. To my first glance, they couldn’t have been more different. Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin chronicles a religious journey of a fourteen-year-old boy, John, who is struggling with his religion and his conflicting relationship with his father; while Love Is A Revolution focuses on a cute relationship to be, with a side of self-love becoming a “revolution”, so to speak. Of course, to my discovery, when reading both books, there were similarities among the differences.
In Go Tell It On The Mountain, Baldwin’s prose is heavily focused on religion; investigating and exploring its many facets. When Love Is A Revolution (Renee Watson) mentions religion, it is through a short “three minute” bible reading the main character, Nala, experiences during trips to her grandmother’s house. Although Baldwin’s take in Go Tell It On The Mountain is somewhat autobiographical because Balwin did struggle with his religion, it is safe to assume that the emphasis on religion in Go Tell It On My Mountain is also because of the differences in writing styles that exist in both novels.
Baldwin, in Go Tell It On The Mountain writes with long, in-depth sentences. Details aren’t lost among his paragraphs, and often many paragraphs are used to illustrate minuscule details to add to the lengthy illustration Baldwin is known for in his work. Renee Watson, in Love Is A Revolution, writes with short sentences, getting straight to the point, similar to the writing style of Hemingway, for instance. Although the writing style is the primary foundation, it is often said that setting can act as an important backbone to the plotlines of novels as well.
In both books, New York City serves as the background, however, in completely different ways. In Go Tell It On The Mountain, 1950s Harlem is crucial as the setting, with the Great Migration in full swing, the city is explored as African-Americans, including the characters in the book, are seeing and moving to the promise of the city. The presence New York holds is incredibly important to the context of the period for this very reason and serves as a base for many of the events that occur in the book (no spoilers!). However, in Love Is A Revolution, New York serves as an underlying thread, present for its melting pot of culture and subway stops, but doesn’t give a make or break situation for the plotline or story contrasting with Go Tell It On The Mountain.
These are just a few similarities and differences I discovered through my analytical reading of both books. Although I never planned on comparing such different literary pieces, it is so interesting to discover how, just like people, books can often surprise you! Stay tuned for my next blog post- is the next book setting… Europe?