Review: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970)



  • Lifetime Reading Challenge (1970)
  • 1001 Books to Read Before You Die challenge


I read this for my Lifetime Challenge for the year 1970. I read this book long ago (in my teens) but didn’t remember many details.

This is not a plotty story, with a linear narrative. Instead, it’s a serious of vignettes about various people’s lives, people around the central figure of Pecola, a young black girl living in Lorraine Ohio who believes herself to be ugly and who longs for blue eyes. We see the story of her mother, Pauline, her father, Cholly, and many others in her circle. Each story is melancholy and filled with rich details of poverty, of misfortune, of blessings, and of the small joys of every day life. It is bleak, but the bleakness is very ordinary (that is to say, within a framework of everyday reality) and there are delicious moments too. And there’s such glorious detail that you can see and feel moments in time such as the bare large feet propped against the porch railing.

As a reader, I much prefer plot and a driving narrative, but Toni Morrison’s language and expression of character are so fine, it held me mesmerized. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author, and I highly recommend that. It was fantastic to hear all the dialect-riddled voices in the author’s voice and to hear her calm pathos as she spoke her own lyrical words. Really, an amazing treat. I felt like I was seeing her read her book live.

Needless to say, 5 stars.

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