Saturday, June 12, 2010

Beloved by: Toni Morrison


Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.

This is a story I'll have to read again to fully understand and appreciate it. There are so many layers to Beloved and so many messages, it's hard to grasp each theme and idea the first time around. It definitely focuses on aspects of guilt, living with our pasts and trying to move on, defining ourselves as humans (there's a point in the story I loved where the main character, Sethe, is told that she has two legs, not four. It was a really powerful moment), and family.

The descriptions and ideas Morrison uses to paint a picture for something is so beautiful. The style of this book, much like The Bluest Eye, flows well and has a heavy poetic feel to it. The story is both raw and real, while also being dreamy and kind of like the state between being awake and asleep. Sometimes you don't really know what's going on until she hits you with an image so powerful you're left almost breathless, wondering how you got to that point without realizing what was happening.

I really liked the story. The characters left me wanting more at times, but they were well written. I could feel their pain, especially when they were talking about their past as slaves. Very emotional. The whole book is emotional, especially considering when it takes place. I liked how in the end Denver was stronger and became more independent. I really, really wanted to know what had happened to Halle though! I think not knowing worked for the novel, though. There were some aspects that were left to the reader's imagination, and I liked that.

I liked the supernatural aspect to the novel, and how it felt so realistic. It was well written.

All in all, this was a very good book. Not for the light-hearted, because it's very dark at times.

Overall rating: 8/10

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