Top positive review
An amazing, gut-wrenching
2 January 2017
An amazing, gut-wrenching, sad book, which should be required reading for all Americans, yet I gave it 4 stars because I didn't enjoy it at ALL.
Toni Morrison does not flinch from the barest of truths about racism - both in terms of the way beauty has been historically portrayed in a fair-skinned, blue eyed, blonde idealistic way, and in terms of the historical and present day racism facing African-American children in America. As I read this book, I happened to see an ad for new dolls with natural black hair, and I was so glad.
Morrison tells the story of poor Pecola, a set upon, tragic little girl with a damaged mother and a vicious, abused father, Polly and Cholly in a series of stories that intertwine. Pecola comes to live with another family with two fiestier, funnier little girls. This somehow makes her even more tragic. Morrison shows how chance encounters affect the characters view of themselves growing up, and how this in turn hurts their children. She uses language that no one else dares use, and is critical of the way that some African-Americans have willingly enabled a racist culture that holds their own children back while prioritising others.
Sexual abuse is another central theme. I can't help but think that this is in part autobiographical. I loved it, but hated it too. It made me so angry and so sad, but I am glad I gave it my time. I don't think I will ever be able to forget this book.