Review: “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison*

toni-morrison-the-bluest-eyeSince I’ve read Beloved, I went into The Bluest Eye thinking I had seen and felt the worst that Toni Morrison had to offer. I was very, very wrong and I am not okay.

I knew I was wrong before the first “seasonal” section of the book starts, when Pecola is likened to “…plot of black dirt” for her father to “…[drop] his seeds into…”(5). This was the first time I had to put the book down so that I could digest what I had just read. I mean, did that really just happen? Did I actually read something so outrageously vile? It was the first of many sequences that would make me feel physically ill, more so than anything I had ever read before. This book, while so immensely beautiful in its crafting, has inflicted more mental and emotional distress than (I think) anything else I’ve ever read. I don’t know how to describe it; I’m only writing this because I feel the need to get words out of my mouth.

Morrison is really, really good at what she does. She specifically chooses events in her narratives that are unimaginable, but undeniably real. In this way, Morrison has us realize a terrible potential for extremity, both in the world and in ourselves. Reading about a little black girl who is defined by the hate she has for herself is unimaginable, but as Morrison proves, a very real experience. The idea of a little girl having such a corrupted sense of self bothers and upsets and angers me so much that writing right now is extremely difficult.

I’m not naïve to the fact of realities such as Pecola’s, but I think this book shows how certain realities beg to be witnessed through multiple (and oftentimes unexpected) lenses. That said, thank god we have books like The Bluest Eye. They have the power to change who we are, how we think, and what we feel. That is how ideas become actions. That is how the world moves forward.

And that is why to me, 207 pages of anguish, guilt, and anger are worth every word.

Rating: 4.5/5

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