Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beloved, Toni Morrison - New Classics Challenge

I'm a little behind already in my New Classics Challenge and I've barely even begun. I was supposed to read Beloved, by Toni Morrison in August. Well, I started it in August but I didn't finish it until mid-September.

I picked this book because of all of Toni Morrison's books, I feel that Beloved is the book she is best known for. And it was 3rd overall on the New Classics Challenge list and I had read the first two books on the list so why not the 3rd! This was my 3rd Toni Morrison book.

Beloved is the story of Sethe and her daughter (or her ghost daughter). Sethe's story is one of family, slavery, relationships, pasts and hauntings. We find Sethe, her daughter Denver and her mother-in-law Baby Suggs in Cincinnati. They've escaped slavery and have made a life for themselves in this town (a somewhat solitary life but a life nonetheless). As Sethe and the other characters in the book tell the story of Sethe's life (and essentially all their lives) during slavery, her escape from slavery and what happened right after she escaped - the whole journey elvoves; the tragedy of what happened with her 1st daughter, why her family has been tormented for so many years, and the power of community.

I usually find Toni Morrison very difficult to read. Her style is very circular, you get bits and pieces of information that all come together at the end when the two ends of the circle connect, but during the read sometimes it's hard to see those connections. I've seen her speak, and she even talks circular, it's pretty amazing! However, this book was a little different. It still had it's circular aspects in that it all pieced together in the end (it came full circle if you'll allow me.) It wasn't as confusing though as I was reading it and I found myself, enjoying the story. It is not an uplifting read, it is one of those books that over and over will have you question, "If I was in her shoes what would I have done."

Overall, I thought that Beloved was a very powerful read and of all the Toni Morrison books I've read this is the first one that I would recommend. I'm glad that the New Classics challenge, challenged me to finally pick this up off my shelf and read it. I can certainly see why it could be considered a new classic!


joanna said...

I read this a really long time ago and would like to read it again if I get time... Which other of her books would you recommend?

Diane said...

Nice review! I just finished this book for the same challenge. Although it was a very disturbing read, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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