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Book Review: The Bluest Eye


Article by Mary Ellin Arch

Photography by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Such a simple concept: a girl longs for blue eyes. It could be a slim YA title with a breezy young narrator who ultimately learns to appreciate her brown-eyed beauty. But in the hands of Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Toni Morrison, this simple concept is not so simple.

Morrison tells the story of Pecola Breedlove and her blue-eyes longings as a series of vignettes offering glimpses into the lives of people around her: her mama who seems to prefer the little blonde girl in the white home where she works, her papa who sees her both as beloved daughter and exploitable commodity, the popular girl at school who initially befriends her but then torments her. These glimpses show how Pecola is in turn an innocent child and an innocent victim, a reality that's not lost on those who know her and love her and yet are powerless to help her.

I read this book as part of a conscious effort to sample excellent literature focused on the Black experience. I came away with compelling look at what it meant to grow up poor and marginalized in the first half of the 20th century—admittedly, a less enlightened time than now. I found this to be an excellent read, and thus I highly recommend it, with the caveat that some themes may cause distress for sensitive readers. It's a bit of a challenge as it is not traditionally plotted but definitely worth your time.

4 out of 5.