Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Review: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Breath, Eyes, Memory
by Edwidge Danticat
© 1994
Vintage Books

Genre: Literary Fiction; women in fiction; mother/daughter relations in fiction; coming of age female-fiction; multicultural protagonists-fiction

Don’t miss this! It is story at it’s most poetically powerful best. Danticat’s multi-cultural, multi-lingual upbringing has given her a rich lode of exotic image, story and metaphor to mine. This is a story about growing up. It is also a story about mothers and daughters and their vulnerability to their expectations of each other and how love can so easily be the motive for cruelty. But most essentially it is a story about being human. Setting the story in the exotic (for most Americans) Haitian culture serves to emphasize our similarities. Common to every culture that ever existed is the sanctity of traditions--the unquestioned repetition over generations of particular acts and the stories we tell to explain them. Many traditions are good and fundamental to the health of society, but many are just the opposite. It takes the courage born of pain to ask the first question that is defiance of tradition. But so often pain kills courage instead of birthing it. And oh the courage it takes to be the first daughter in uncounted generations to say no!


I read this book and posted this review on the first rendition of my Joyread website in the late 90s when it was an Oprah Book Club selection. Rereading the review today makes me want to reread the novel.

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