Classic of the Month: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

BluestEyeThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morisson

Published by Knopf on December 28, 1993

Genres: Fiction, Classics, African-American, Historical

Pages: 216 Format: Hardcover Source: Library

4/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves’ garden do not bloom. Pecola’s life does change- in painful, devastating ways.
What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child’s yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Toni Morrisons’s most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.

Set on the shores of Lake Erie, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, a young girl yearning to feel beautiful in a world that has turned against her,  and the lives of her surrounding family, friends, and community. From Claudia MacTeer to Cholly Breedlove and Geraldine to Soaphead Church, this book zeroes in on how the past shapes the here and now as well as the failings of social structure.

When I Discovered This Classic

The Bluest Eye was actually a recent discovery for me. Despite hearing about Toni Morrison’s works pretty often, it was usually about her more recent writings like God Help the Child or more popular ones like Beloved. Her first novel wasn’t on my radar until a coworker brought it up.

Why I Chose To Read It

Well I knew I needed to at least make a start on reading her books since my library actually has a meeting room dedicated to Toni Morrison. I chose her first one because it seemed liked the best starting point to experience her writing.

What Makes It A Classic

For me, there are a number of reasons The Bluest Eye is a classic. It brings the reader inside a distinct community focusing on how culture and class-ism becomes detrimental to society. It’s also a monumental exploration of racial beauty and self-loathing especially for when it was written. Even the commentary on victimization is handled with care.

What I Thought Of This Classic

While I didn’t love this one, The Bluest Eye was actually a very good book. Morrison’s writing is excellent, drawing the reader in. The narrative was perfectly structured rotating between different POVs which allowed the reader insight into characters’ pasts and how it informed their adult lives. It wasn’t just Pecola’s story, but the people surrounding her as well. Most important was Morrison’s commentary on society, culture, etc. and she held nothing back. 

Will It Stay A Classic

I definitely believe Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye will continue to be a classic. It provides criticism and important dialogue on topics of race, sexual assault, cultural identity, and idealized standards of beauty. It also remains a crucial point of reference to understand Morrison’s development as a writer.

Who I’d Recommend It To

This is a hard one. I defnitely think it’s an important read but not everyone will be able to connect with the subject matter. It should also be noted there are trigger warnings for sexual assualt, rape, and abusive relationships. I guess I’d recommend this for adults and college students then.

So, have you read any of Toni Morrison’s books? Any suggestions as to what I should pick up next? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Since this year I am partaking in the 2016 Classics Challenge run by Stacey at PrettyBooks, I thought I’d answer the questions she sets out.

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