Book Review: Beloved

wThis book has been highly, highly heralded as one of the great American novels. The descriptions remind me somewhat of Native Son, which I read in high school and still think of as the best book I read at that time, and that excites me.

The Book

412b8ib2b0uql._sx322_bo1204203200_Beloved
Author: Toni Morrison
1987
Amazon Link

This was an easy enough book to find at my libary. Not only is this book considered a Great American Novel, but the author won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997. Now, I usually don’t enjoy much of this critically acclaimed stuff, but the subject matter presented in the blurbs seems right up my alley.

After I read it, I think I need to admit that Beloved was so good that I can’t even explain it. It was powerful, riveting, beautiful, haunting. It’s one of the best classics I’ve ever read.

Non-Spoiler Review

First off: My god. MY GOD. I didn’t go in expecting to like it – I went in expecting this to be like Oscar bait movies: vapid, containing some exciting elements that are there to make people think it’s ok, and then mostly garbled quotes that are supposed to be inspirational.

This book was a constant train ride of excitement, perfect, perfect character development, and a plot that just wouldn’t be silenced. The tone of the book was successfully different from the outlooks and tones of the characters, and it added such depth to the book’s impact. This book deserves every accolade it has, and even if Toni Morrison wrote nothing else, this thing is so top notch.

Second off: THIS BOOK IS THE BEST EXAMPLE I’VE EVER SEEN FOR HOW YOU DO A SEX SCENE. There were a few sex-scenes in the book, but the objectives of the scenes were very clear. It was explicit, but not to the point of erotica – each action was strangely, beautifully symbolic, and the thoughts and feelings of the characters molded during these scenes. That’s what made these scenes, bar none, the best sex scenes I’ve ever read: plot and characterization were crystal clear during them.

You know what? They should just stop reading Great Gatsby in high school. People should read this instead. Best classic I’ve read in a long time, and I don’t care that it was written as recently as 1987. It’s going to be a classic, period.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Something that I loved from this book was the magical realism. In the book, a girl named Beloved shows up at Sethe’s doorstep. Sethe, who had killed her oldest daughter in effort to keep her from being whipped by her masters, had bought a headstone for that little girl and gotten “Beloved” inscribed in it. When Beloved shows up at her door, Sethe believes it’s her daughter returned to forgive her – but Denver, Sethe’s living daughter, believes Beloved has come to take Sethe’s life in return for the one stolen from her. However, it’s unclear if Beloved really is this daughter, or if she’s just a weird girl.

My personal opinion is that Beloved really was a ghost, but I can see how people could make the argument otherwise. Instead of Beloved taking Sethe’s position slowly away, one could say that Beloved was simply a very disturbed child who got pregnant by a nasty horndog. Instead of exorcising an evil spirit, the community could have banished someone who desperately needed help.

Something else I found interesting in the book was the positions of the white people. The tone of the book made it clear that the author thought white people were, similar to black people, trying to look out for themselves but had enough benefits that they were also able to destroy others’ lives. The way the characters in the book spoke, however, white people felt like English fairies: sometimes randomly benevolent, but mostly mean-spirited, unpredictable, and powerful. It was a really interesting look at race relations, especially for a book set around the Civil War.

If you’re in the mood to read a classic, consume this one. Do it.

Next week:

Oh lord, I’m doing Moby Dick next. Pray for me.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Beloved

  1. D. Wallace Peach says:

    Now, I have to read this book, HRR. What a great review. I’m always nervous about reading highly acclaimed books – that I’ll be disappointed after all the hype. But this sounds like a wonderful choice. And I totally agree that some of the aging classics should be replaced by new classics. Thanks for the recommendation. Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy New Year. 🙂

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