The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

907781  The Bluest Eye is Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison’s first novel.  What stands out here  is the richness of the language and the depth of emotion that this language evokes in the reader.  Toni Morrison in later years has expressed some criticism of this novel, but it remains a powerful work.  The themes of self-hatred (not accepting one’s self),  of poverty, of equating whiteness with beauty and cleanliness but also sterility, of invisibility versus being seen differently, and of sexuality linked to humiliation and abuse in a cycle of despair, are all powerfully conveyed and relevant.

The novel concerns an 11-year-old girl Pecola, who wishes for blue eyes, in order to attain a white standard of beauty.  She sees this as an escape from the horrors of her abusive home life and her own “ugliness”.  Although the novel follows her story, the main narrator is her friend Claudia MacTeer, which gives the reader a sense of distance to  observe what is happening to Pecola and at the same time see how the community is reacting.  The prologue foreshadows the events of the novel with the imagery of the marigold seeds that will not grow and also with explicit details about Pecola.    Claudia’s narration provides a clear voice, that shows regret tempered by inevitability and human weakness.

Not a book I would say that I enjoyed reading because the subject matter is devastating and but an excellent read 5 out of 5 stars.

 

 

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The Girl Before by JP Delaney

28016509  I have been on the waiting list for a while for The Girl Before against all my better instincts about reading another book with the word “girl” in the title, obviously trying to ride that money train.   I picked it up this morning and bumped it to the top of my reading pile because other people are still waiting for it.

The book follows two timelines, then with Emma and now with Jane, so essentially there two girls in the book.  The chapters alternate between the two women as their stories run in parallel centered around them both signing an extremely controlling  restrictive lease to live in an uber minimalistic  technologically advanced Architectural Digest type home in London for minimal rent.  Obviously no one told either of these women the old adage “if something seems too good to be true…” .

The house that anchors the story was built and designed by the narcissistic controlling, Fifty Shades of Grey style character, Edward Monkford.  Both women seem attracted to his particular brand of paternalistic bullshiz but at the same time seem surprised by it.  Seriously, I am amazed that either one of them could walk and chew gum at the same time.  THat is my biggest issue with the book.  The protagonists, particularly Jane just made the reader want to smack her upside the head to wake her up and that is within the first 15 pages or so.

There are some plot holes in regards to the technology use and the investigation of Emma’s death.  I think that was a weakness that needed to be addressed and wasn’t.  The Transitions from Jane (present) to Emma (past) were clear and easy to follow.  I didn’t like dropping the punctuation for dialog in Emma’s chapter.  It made it annoying to read.  The pacing was good for a thriller, the story kept moving forward. There was no lagging or filler chapters.  Every conversation had a purpose in moving the plot forward and filling in details for reader.

Major themes addressed here are obsession and control.  Technology is used as a tool of control.  It is interesting that it is men wielding technology against women, while women use emotional/sexual manipulation against the men.

Two out of five stars.