There is a running joke in my family that the reason my sister is such a picky eater is because my Mom read The Grapes of Wrath while she was pregnant with her. Having missed this book in high school and wanting to be in on the joke, I thought I'd read it too.
I liked this book because to me, the writing was very profound. Steinbeck's descriptions of the characters and their behavior are dead-on in their portrayal of real human behavior. The first example that struck me this way was on page 4:
"After a while the faces of the watching men lost their bemused perplexity and became hard and angry and resistant. Then the women knew that they were safe and that there was no break. Then they asked, What'll we do? And the men replied, I don't know. But it was all right...Women and children knew deep in themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole."
I can't say that I loved this book because it is a major downer. There were many times when I would start crying and have to stop. It is really just one bad thing after another happening to this family. When it ends, the family is left in a dire situation, and the reader is left to agonize and wonder about them. I'm sure this was very intentional by Steinbeck.
Also, this book was long, people! 473 pages! And not all of the chapters are really essential to the story. Many of them are side stories or vignettes about people watching the situation from another angle. One whole chapter is devoted to a turtle crossing a street.
But like I said, the book was beautifully written. And it made me incredibly grateful for all of the things that I have- always a good reminder. So I did like it...But I will NEVER read it again!