By Denise Turney
Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart is the fourth work by Alice Walker I have read and enjoyed. Various characters in the story leave their ordinary homes and venture on spiritual retreats, vacation, or to see to family and friends. What happens to the different characters during these interludes sets the story in motion. The character named Kate is created in honor of Alice Walker’s grandmother, a woman’s whose life seemed cut short, a woman Alice Walker notes in the book that she has always missed.
For readers with a penchant for inner guidance and spiritual knowing, Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart may provide courage, and if not courage, motivation to continue that journey. The story opens with a cool revolution and the lines: “Kate Talkingtree sat meditating in a large hall that was surrounded by redwood trees. Although the deep shade of the trees usually kept the room quite cool, today was unseasonably warm and Kate, with everybody else, was beginning to perspire.”
Kate’s beau is not with her. He had decided and together they have agreed, that he will go to Hawaii, a place he wants to visit, a place that holds special memories for him. One truth that Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart illustrates, without barrier, is that life continues along its sing-song way whether we are on vacation, living out routine days or trying to break free into a brand new way of living. And this is what happens in Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart. Kate’s boyfriend, Yolo, is not in Hawaii long when he comes upon a man laid in the street. The man is young. He looks healthy, but the spark in his life has been extinguished. Men from the community come to the area and begin to tell Yolo about the man. People have stories in their lives, many stories. Yolo listens and in the listening he longs for change while at the same time, and in a peculiar way, he accepts what is peacefully.
While Yolo is setting things right in Hawaii and trying to let go of bad habits like smoking and other things that have bothered him for far too long, Kate is at a spiritual retreat. She eats food that she is told will make her strong, but that, at first and maybe instead makes her sick. After many days, the couple returns to one another. They are changed in small ways except for one thing – they still love each other.
Alice Walker’s skill as a master writer needs no introduction. Since the celebration of her award winning classic, The Color Purple, readers have become increasingly familiar with Alice Walker’s talent. In this story and as usual, Walker’s style is readily understood and written with deep purpose. She wants the reader to understand what the story shares; she wants the reader to see the story, and again, at this, she triumphs.
Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart is a realistic examination of what goes on at the deeper recesses of the human spirit. The story challenges its readers to go beneath the surface of appearances and empty and unfulfilling desires. It is a book about love and community. Near the end of the story, are the words: “It was a warm sunny day in autumn. In two days Kate and Yolo would join their friends beside the clear, beautiful river they’d found in the north. Everyone was coming . . .”
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