Rating - * * *
This book requires a lot of hard work and a I-cant-abandon-it-now attitude specially during the first few chapters of the book when this feeling is highly pre-dominant. The book has the capability to sway its readers between the extremes of intense frustration to intense joy of having gotten one’s hand on such a marvelous book.
What is the book about
The book is set in the dark era of Americas history which they would be keen to wipe off if they possibly could – slavery and the atrocities faced by the negroes as a consequence of it. The book dwells on the life of four such slaves who have dared to do the unthinkable – escape from bondage – and the consequences thereafter. Sethe the main protagonist escapes with her children, deserted by her husband [ or so she thinks], to live with her mother-in-law but because of her past being so screwed up she ends up committing a even more ghastly act – killing her own daughter – who turns up one day from the dead to claim her exclusive right to her mother’s love and the events that cascade as a result of this is what the story is all about.
What I liked about the book
It’s hard to put what is good about the book – because Toni Morrison evokes feelings of both hate and love in equal measure. The story spun by Toni Morrison is highly commendable and she very successfully sketches out each character – their strengths and weaknesses – so that as a reader I could have full empathy with each one of them. The scenes are very vividly described to help the reader visualize it in complete detail and make the reading experience more enriching. The viciousness and cruelty that the slaves were subjugated have been portrayed very beautifully – subtle yet enough to convey the import of the magnanimity of the inhuman acts.
What I didn’t like about the book
Probably this is one of the rare books that even though it gets a good rating from me, the criticisms are also many that it makes me wonder where I should start from. The narrative style of jumping between different periods of times is too much to keep track of and makes the reading difficult.
At many places I found the English to be grammatically wrong so poor editing [and I don’t mean the conversations which I understand are constructed weirdly because that’s how it was spoken back then].
The use of symbolism makes me really mad especially when effort is not made to ensure that the reader gets it as well – and the author is guilty of this as she has used it in many places and the meaning of which can be comprehended only if you have a study guide or you have this book in your syllabus and the teacher is kind enough to explain it to you.
Lastly, the ending – yet another book where I find the ending dissatisfactory as I dislike ambiguity of any sorts that leaves the reader to do the guesswork.