The Bluest Eye: A story to touch your heart… and break it.

The Bluest Eye is the first one of Toni Morrison’s books that I have read.  I say first instead of only because I will be reading more of her books.  If you’re not familiar with the book, read how Goodreads describes it:

the_bluest_eye_frontcover_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 Tony Morrisons’s most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.

Completely unintentional, but interesting enough now that I am looking at that description, the first book of hers I read was also her first novel.  Set in the 40’s, you follow three little girls as they are growing up during a hard time for blacks in America.  You learn how the girls interact with each other and with the other girls in their school.  Pecola, one of the three’s only wish is to have blue eyes, so she can be beautiful.  The story is not always told from Pecola’s perspective.  I’ll tell you: it is very interesting how Toni Morrison writes from the different character’s perspectives.  She starts off telling about their personal history, explaining how they came to be who they are before she comes back to the story.   In this way, she makes you see that life is hard, and though people may be ugly and mean she makes you see that they are people first.  That, I feel is just one of the many strengths in her writing style in this novel.

In thinking about Pecola and how she wanted blue eyes to be beautiful, it made me really sad that she could not be beautiful as she was.  I had a conversation with a friend, who proposed a question: how many people do you think are black have ever at any point in their life wondered what would my life be like if I were white?  How many deaf people have ever wondered, what would my life be like if I could hear?  How many blind people wondered what their life would be like if they could see?  She brought this up to emphasize that very rarely do white, hearing people who can see wish to change that fact about themselves.  I say very rarely, in light of recent news.  I won’t go into that (and I don’t really want to make this an issue of race), but in reading this, I simply thought about this: how many people wish they were different for whatever reason?  Hasn’t every human being at some point in their lives wished they could change something about themselves, to be more beautiful, to fit in, to be smarter, to … whatever?

Spoiler alert! Though I won’t go into much detail, for those of you who have not read this yet… I will say that I wish that life had been better to Pecola Breedlove.  She may be a character in a book, but what she goes through and experiences are not unlike many, many little girls who to this day experience similar things and it breaks my heart.

What did you think of the story?

4.5 out of 5 stars.