Readers, I feel as if I have been hit in the head with a shovel.
What an amazing book.
Do you see moving images in your mind when you read? I do, but to be honest the quality of these images varies from book to book, depending both on the skill of the writer and my own library of mental images I can use to flesh out the words on the page in my mind. Even though I have barely spent any time at all in the setting(s) of this book, and of course was not alive during the era in which it is set, this book produced unbelievably detailed, cinematic images the entire time I was reading.
And that doesn't even touch the story. The alternating chapters device worked very well for me. I was very drawn into the predicament of the Joad family, and all the others like them, and at times this book made me very deeply angry - angry that even today, the system is rigged by those who view anyone who is not part of their elite cadre to be a type of "Okie," a dunce who will toil for pennies under the threat of a "bad economy" that mysteriously takes away jobs. How the rich get richer and richer and richer while more and more of us "normal folk" lose our metaphorical farms. It's truly not hard to see the appeal of communism, and/or labor unions, in this era. It's a blight on humanity that there are so many shameless so-called human beings who will not hesitate to rip off someone who has an honest, hardworking nature; to take advantage of someone's need and use it against them to make a buck.
But enough soapbox philosophy! Suffice to say that this book has made a profound impression on me, and is an instant favorite. Highly recommended.