Incidentally, there's also an interesting racial dynamic at play, which I hadn't really thought about until after I finished and went back and read the introduction. Zora Neale Hurston is well known for her portrayals of African American life, but this novel, for the most part, is about poor white people. Apparently Hurston wanted to show that what is known as Black English is actually just the language of the South. I think you could extend that further and say that she wanted to show how similar black and white culture were overall. As the introduction points out, this is most explicit in her decision to make one of the children a successful blues musician. To quote Hurston:
There is no more Negro music in the U.S. It has been fused and merged and become the national expression, and displaced the worship of European expression (...) what has evolved here is something American.
There are relatively subtle racial undertones in the novel - for the most part, Hurston avoids giving her characters any really nasty racist thoughts, though they do clearly feel themselves superior to the black people in their lives. There is one moment where lynching is mentioned, and casual though it is, it cannot fail to induce a shudder and a reminder that this was a reality of those times. But her focus is more on the class divide between the poor "crackers" and the more affluent whites.
All in all, it's a pretty incredible book, one that deserves a lot more attention.