Toni Morrison’s debut novel, “The Bluest Eye” is a thought-provoking and invigorating story. It follows two working-class families in Lorain, Ohio during the Great Depression: the MacTeers and the Breedloves. The families’ paths cross when the youngest Breedlove—Pecola—stays with the MacTeers while her father’s in jail, and she shares a room with Claudia and Fredia. The three girls are close in age and develop a friendship based on the care and protectiveness they have for each other.
Morrison has an incredibly unique voice in her novels. Each word she uses has a purpose in each sentence, and every sentence is key to the paragraph. She is intentional with her language while creating vivid imagery and distinct characters which bring the story to life. She also has a great blend of poetry in her fiction: there is rhythm to her syntax that makes for a fast read and a story which leaves you wanting more in the best way possible.
How many young girls have dreamed of having blue eyes? I know I did. Morrison portrays the effect of eurocentric beauty standards and the degradation of anyone who doesn’t fit the “conventional” image through the perspective of two little girls: one who resents this sentiment and one who dreams of it.
Despite being set nearly eighty years ago, and written fifty-three years ago, much of our society today is reflected on the pages of “The Bluest Eye.” We view eurocentric beauty as the standard, and beauty seems to be the solution to all of our problems. Although society is currently battling such beliefs, they undeniably exist and influence how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves.
I flew through these pages, fully immersed in “The Bluest Eye”: following closely behind Pecola, Claudia, and Freida. And while racism is central to the story, it is not the whole story. There is more to the novel than that: this story is about family and love and relationships with each other and oneself. “The Bluest Eye” is a thought-provoking and beautiful novel that will make you think about how you view beauty and the way in which you consider yourself to be beautiful.
I fully recommend you read “The Bluest Eye,” and support local bookstores if you can!