In Honor of Toni Morrison

To celebrate the life of the esteemed author Toni Morrison, I’m reposting my review of Beloved. This book ranks as one of my all time favorite reads.

BelovedBeloved by Toni Morrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I enrolled into my contemporary literature class, I couldn’t fathom what kinds of novels my instructor planed to toss at us. I remember staring at the reading list with more than a little trepidation, and when my eyes glanced over Toni Morrison’s Beloved, I groaned. The red background with the flowing gold script screamed romance to me. When it came time to read the book, I settled in with an open mind, but still trembled from the thought of sappy narration. Within the first few lines I discovered my fears were unfounded. Never judge a book by its cover!

Beloved tells us a hauntingly beautiful ghost story, brought forth by the desperate actions of an escaped slave woman, Sethe. Some may wonder whether Sethe’s actions are perhaps the wisest; regardless, her actions come back to haunt her, literally. Readers may find Toni’s writing style difficult. She packs the pages full of dreams, flashbacks, and memories that take the reader back and forth through time (think Faulkner or Virginia Woolf), and I found myself confused, having to reread the text sometimes to decipher the meaning behind the words. Regardless the excellent story makes up for this confusion. I highly suggest reading it.

On a side note: The movie failed to encompass the grittiness and emotion of which the book so brilliantly displayed.

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Lord of the Flies by William Golding Book Cover

 

 
 

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Spoiler alert**

A group of young children survive a plane crash on an uninhabited island. Quickly, the survivors attempt to recreate civilization by creating a tribe and voting for a leader. The tribe quickly dissolves into anarchy. Only a handful of the children grasp onto civilization and rationale through the entire book. By the end of the book, most of the children have lost their innocence and degraded into barbarians.

The book illustrates a great adventure story with plenty of action. I can’t say I cared for William Golding’s writing style, but the story and the meaning behind it makes this book well worth the read. Lord of the Flies symbolically shows the bestial nature of the human race.

The symbols that I found the most interesting were:

  • First, the title, Lord of the Flies, is the translation for Beelzebub (a demon, and in some cases, Satan). I understand that Beelzebub is the demon of decay and famine, symbolizing what happens to the children’s innocence and sense of civility while on the island.
  • Piggy, the one child in the book who insists on civilization, is a pudgy, asthmatic, almost-blind boy. Ironically (or perhaps predictably), he is also the most intelligent and rational. I understand a person like Piggy needs civilization to survive, but I think the portrait of this character says something about a different kind of decay when humans depend too much on civilization.
  • Finally, the children are rescued by the British Navy, which is off to go fight in one of the bloodiest wars in history. I believe this rescue is to tie together how the story told on the island reflects the degradation of humanity as a whole.

Overall, I give this book four stars because it is amazing, despite the distracting writing style. Leave me a comment to let me know what you thought of this book, or of my review.

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~ Michael C. Sahd

Beloved
Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison
My rating (on Goodreads): 4 out of 5 stars

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and that definitely applies to Beloved! When I first saw the book, I thought, “Oh crap! A romance novel.” I was way off. In spite of its ambiguous cover, Beloved is actually a ghost story, resulting from the desperate actions of Sethe, an escaped female slave.

Readers may debate whether Sethe makes good decisions; however, regardless of right or wrong, her actions come back to haunt her, literally. I don’t want to give away the story to prospective readers, but I will say that this book isn’t for everyone. Filled with dream sequences, flashbacks, and memories Beloved flip flops through time in a manner reminiscent of William Faulkner or Virginia Woolf. Love it or hate it, don’t skip reading it.

On a side note: the movie is horrible. No Hollywood flick could ever encompass the grittiness and raw emotion captured by the book. But don’t take my word for it: Read it, watch it, rate it! Let me know what you think.

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~ Michael C. Sahd