Book Mini-Review: Beloved by Toni Morrison
“I was talking about time. It’s so hard for me to believe in it. Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place - the picture of it - stay, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.”
I have been meaning to read Beloved by Toni Morrison for years now. When I saw a copy at our library book sale earlier this year, I snatched it up. I decided to read it as a banned book for the 2018 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. To be honest, I didn’t really know anything about Beloved other than it was a story about former slaves. Imagine my surprise, when I started reading it and discovered it was also a ghost story. Sethe is a former slave who escaped with her children to Ohio; now eighteen years later, the only people left in her house are her daughter Denver, herself, and the ghost of her daughter who was killed while a toddler. Her two sons left a long time ago, and her mother-in-law Baby Suggs died a few years prior to the start of the book. But when Sethe’s old friend Paul D comes back into her life, the lives of Sethe, Denver, and the ghost are forever changed.
When Paul D arrives to visit Sethe, he is immediately struck by something different about their house. When he eventually banishes the ghost of Sethe’s dead daughter, it is only a few days before a girl appears calling herself Beloved. Beloved is a very strange girl, and Paul D is instantly wary. However, both Denver and Sethe are enamored of her. But as it becomes clear that Beloved isn’t going anywhere, not everyone is excited. What follows is an incredible story about family.
I am very glad I read this modern classic. I now understand what everyone says about how incredibly talented Toni Morrison is. The writing in Beloved is truly incredible, especially how each character’s point of view has a different voice. I loved the one chapter from Beloved’s point of view. There was no punctuation, which while I realize is a conscious style choice, normally I despise; I am a major grammar stickler. But in this case, I realized the importance of setting Beloved apart from everyone else’s voices. Beloved is a very different book than I thought it would be, yet even 30 years later, it still holds up.
While I recognize the importance of Beloved (hello, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988), I just wasn’t captivated by it. I enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t my favorite. I think the ghost storyline was what I wasn’t fully on board with. However, it was very interesting, and I can see why Beloved is a modern classic and is loved by many. I do look forward to reading more of Toni Morrison’s works. Does anyone have a suggestion for her next book I should try?
If you have not read Beloved yet, I definitely recommend it. And while it is not my favorite book, I still enjoyed my reading experience. I give it 3.5 stars.