Review: The Bluest Eye

“Each member of the family in his own cell of consciousness, each making his own patchwork quilt of reality—collecting fragments of experience here, pieces of information there.” ~ Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
206 pages
Published by Plume, 1970
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: The heaviness and gloom of this story make me unlikely to revisit it.

Reviewed by Pete
Spoiler-free review

My first Toni Morrison novel is also the first she ever wrote. It’s a brutal and brilliant introduction to her work, and while I didn’t exactly enjoy it (I’m not sure if anyone could), it was a powerful experience.

Pecola Breedlove is an eleven-year-old black girl from Lorain, Ohio whose life had only ever been trouble—this story follows her endurance of a disturbing tragedy whose darkness unravels over the course of the book.

Claudia narrates parts of the story, her chapters deceptively creating the illusion of a story for a much younger audience, briefly. But Morrison more and more frequently moves away from Claudia’s perspective as she tells the dark history of Cholly Breedlove, Pecola’s deeply troubled and violent father.

There’s no traditional narrative to be found, no character arcs with tidy endings. Nothing tidy ever happens, and every event is more complicated than it first appears.

The Bluest Eye is fascinating and joyless. There are no villains, only victims and their victims. Despite all of this, it’s an incredible story that will challenge your expectations constantly and somehow, will leave you wanting more of these broken characters. This will be the first of many Morrison novels I read.

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