Wednesday, December 07, 2022

First Wednesday Book Review Club: THE BLUEST EYE, Toni Morrison


My book group decided to choose a banned book for our November choice. THE BLUEST EYE is certainly on of the most of ten banned books. We read BELOVED years ago and had always meant to read another book by Toni Morrison. 

This was Morrison's first book and I can't imagine there are many stronger first novels. She tells us in the Forerward that the origin of the story lay in a conversation she had with another student when she was in elementary school. The little girl told her she wanted blue eyes. As Morrison thought about this, she was repelled by the idea. She saw the statement as "racial self-loathing." In America, beauty is measured against the dominant white race. How could a black child, especially a girl, have any self-esteem if they were constantly told they could never be beautiful or worthwhile because of the color of their skin.

Percola Breedlove prays every night for beauty, which she defines as blond hair and blue eyes. Possession of these attributes will help her to fit in with her classmates. This is a novel not easily summed up in a few paragraphs. Percola has even more indignities thrust upon her over the course of this story. The writing in this novel is exquisite, lyrical, enriching. The first few chapters make the book seem more difficult than it is. It settles into a manageable read although a shocking one. Set in Lorain Ohio, it might as well be the Deep South of a hundred years earlier. A truly amazing book.  

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Sarah Laurence said...

It's outrageous that such an important novel was ever banned. I read it for English class in high school and reread it later as an adult, appreciating it all the more. Toni Morrison was and is one of my favorite authors.

Good for your book group for reading banned books! I hope they also read lower list authors whose sales are suffering under the bans more than well established bestsellers.

TracyK said...

I admit that this is a novel that I have avoided because I think it would be a difficult read for me. But it isn't a long book, I should be able to handle it. Maybe one day I will.

Margot Kinberg said...

Such a powerful novel. And definitely a book with so much to offer. I'm glad your group decided to read it. Toni Morrison had such a strong voice, and her work is not just beautifully written, but rich, too, even when the topics are harrowing.

pattinase (abbott) said...

We should have looked for a less well-know author but since this book was banned more than almost any other we thought it was a good fit.

Barrie said...

Choosing a banned book for you book this! I haven't read The Bluest Eye. Obviously this needs to be rectified. Thank you for reviewing!