Number of Pages: 324
Release Date: 1987
“Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.
Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.”
Slavery in American history has always been a subject that has fascinated me. How could we have done something so dreadfully horrific for so long? How did these slave-holding Americans live with themselves knowing that they were essentially treating other human beings like animals? When I was given the choice to choose an independent novel in my AP English course, I knew that I wanted to further explore this subject. Luckily, Beloved was the perfect novel for this scenario. Not only did I delve deeper into the terrible past of slavery, but I also was exposed to some spooky, incredibly well-written supernatural elements.
I wouldn’t say this novel is confusing per say, but it definitely is mysterious. This works to its advantage because I was on the edge of my seat the entire time waiting to see what would happen next. The writing is a blend of many different personalities, which makes the story even more engaging. Sometimes it’s lyrical and florid, other times it’s sporadic and wild like Sethe herself. But make no mistake, every single word is absolutely beautiful. The emotions, desires, sorrows, and dreams of the characters are so raw and human that I could connect with many of them even though my position in life is vastly different from theirs. The themes of this novel transcend time periods and cultures, something that takes an extremely skilled writer and storyteller to successfully accomplish.
The whole atmosphere of this novel was spooky, haunting, and utterly suspenseful. It’s a unique mix of historical fiction and ghost stories, and it is executed excellently. The characters experience major growth and development throughout the book, so much so that my opinions of many of them changed drastically from beginning to end. The character I felt the most for was Denver, Sethe’s daughter. She is caught in the whirlwind that is the house at 124 without any say in the matter and to no fault of her own. I think that out of all the characters in the book she definitely draws the shortest straw and gets dealt the worst hand out of the deck. It was difficult at times to feel sympathy for Sethe because she became so selfish, but I had not trouble at all feeling sorry for Denver and wishing the best for her.
One startlingly moving aspect of this novel was when Morrison discussed slavery. Seeing how being a slave impacted the characters and what it eventually drove them to do simply broke my heart, to say the least. The abyss between whites and African Americans was enormous during this time in American history, and the disdain of the other side from each group was clearly apparent in the opinions of the characters. I applaud Morrison for handling such an important and challenging topic with such brilliance and thoughtfulness.
Overall, I loved Beloved. I could go on for pages and pages about how I much I love this book, but I’ll just leave it at that. It’s a complicated and very detailed story filled with flashbacks to the past, dreams of the future, and heartbreaking descriptions of the present. Toni Morrison is an amazingly talented writer, and I cannot wait to read more of her work. I am so happy I picked this to read in my AP English class!
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5 smileys.
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes!!!
Have you ever read this book? What did you think of it? What other books by Toni Morrison would you recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!