Book Review: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (3/5)

20 Nov

I find I usually give ebooks lower-than-normal ratings. I think it’s because I read them so slowly that some of the connections to the beginning of the text are lost on me. I think this is one of those cases. The heartbreaking story of Pecole Breedlove was tear-worthy in small steps but if I’d sat down and binge-read this book, I probably would have cried the latter half of the book. I won a physical copy of this book through a giveaway on Uncharted Parent. I’m sad to say that was over a year ago and I finally picked up the ebook so I could get to it sooner. Thank you, Tracy!

Cover image via Goodreads

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Summary from Goodreads:

Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife.

I don’t read book summaries before I start a book so I expected the two girls, Frieda and Claudia, to be bigger characters in the book. I kept waiting for the narrative to come back to them. I was also thinking that the blue eye would become a big part of the plot earlier in the storyline. Overall, this book took me by surprise. I didn’t expect the rotating narrators and I found it unpredictable who would speak next. Because I read it in chunks, I struggled to remember who was talking, what the time period was, and how the person was connected to the main plot with Pecola.

It’s hard for me to say how credible the characters were. I’ve never been in Pecola’s situation before nor known anyone who was. I thought Frieda and Claudia were wonderful. Their innocence and perception of the world are what I remember from my time at their age. I found it hard to put myself in Pauline or Cholly’s shoes, either, because they had very different lives than I did. Cholly, in particular, was hard to relate to. Maybe it was the gender difference but I found him do deplorable that I wanted to skip his chapters.

Claudia was my favorite. She had her heart in the best of places and you could see her questioning the logic behind everyone being mean to Pecola. She knew she was poor and ugly, but she was still as nice as she could be. Her loss of innocence was a big part of the plot in my mind. By the end, she realized what was so pitiable about Pecola and she still wanted to do nice things for her.

I related to Claudia and Frieda a bit. I think I shared their generalized good spirit at their age (or at least I’m going to think I did). I remember bad things happening around me to people but in a very removed way. I didn’t know why people’s parents were getting divorced or what that really meant. It was a youthful disconnect from reality and I remember, like the girls, slowly piecing together that there were larger, sadder, things going on in the world.

Toni Morrison
Image via Goodreads

The scene where Pecola has her first period was one of my favorites. To an adult reader, it’s so obvious what’s happening. But the panic of the girls, their failures to communicate with their mother and with each other, made the scene funny and memorable. It was light-hearted, unlike most of the book, which made it stick out a lot in a good way. I was hoping that kind of humor might come up again later on, but no such luck.

I don’t want to ruin the ending of the book, but it was so sad that it was my least favorite part for that reason. What Cholly does and how Pecola deals with it are really sad. The part at the end where she sees her blue eyes was a bit confusing at first, but beyond sad when I figured out what was going on.

 

Pecola desires to be loved and feels that if she is pretty like a doll, someone will love her. Unfortunately, her dolls and her idea of beautiful is the caucasian idea of blue eyes. To become pretty, she’ll have to find a way to have blue eyes. The idea of a singular definition of beauty has been challenged a lot in recent years but wasn’t in the 1940s. Her singular push to that idea of beauty is sad when we see how unobtainable it is. Modern society has created surgeries, diets, and clothes to help women attain that idea of beauty, but how real is surface beauty? What if we’re the only ones who see it, the way Pecola sees her blue eyes?

Writer’s Takeaway: Morrison uses a sample from a reading primer to set up a stark difference between what the girls read and idealize as a perfect family and the world they live in. I understood why she did this, but it wasn’t a style I would imitate myself. It became tedious to read and, frankly, I started skipping those parts.

This book was good and it was sad, but it was a bit abstract in parts for my taste and jumped around a bit. Three out of five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
The BluestEye by Toni Morrison | Book Maven’s Blog
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison | The Writerly Blog of Lane William Brown
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison | 100 Books in 100 Weeks

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2 Responses to “Book Review: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (3/5)”

  1. Laurel-Rain Snow November 20, 2017 at 10:57 AM #

    I am not sure whether or not I’ll read this book. I love the idea of it, and the author is famously erudite. But I don’t like when alternating narrators are hard to follow. I’ve read books like that, and appreciate the ones in which the author introduces each narrator at the top of a chapter or section.

    As for e-book reading, I have now become attuned to it. Mostly because I take copious notes, realizing that it is hard (in an e-book) to find pages or sections to refer to when I’m confused. It has taken a few years. LOL.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Sam November 20, 2017 at 7:30 PM #

      I have no where near enough practice with ebooks. I think I’ve read eight now, which is a pittance. Yes, the book jumped about quite a bit. I’m not sure if her other books do that. Happy reading!

      Like

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