‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison

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BLURB: ‘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.’ (Goodreads.com)

READ IF YOU LIKE: Stories from the deep south, hard-hitting racial and social issues,’The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker, black beauty, white supremacy in the 1940’s.

PAGE COUNT: Approx.204

STAR RATING: (★★★★☆) – Did not get the attention it deserves

I had to read this book as I am studying it for school, so I have kind of cheated, but it’s only 200 pages, so I gave the Grapes of Wrath a rest for a day or two. I would never have picked this book up, and I have never even heard of it, but it is on a subject that interests me a lot, so I quite enjoyed it!

It’s very similar to The Color Purple which I reviewed about a month ago, in that it focuses mainly on a black girl living in the southern states of America in the 40s or 50s, I’m not quite sure. The main point of the book is that 12-year old Pecola Breedlove, who is branded ugly and worthless, longs for the blue eyes of a white girl. As well as the debate of identity and beauty, it also explores rape, harassment and other controversial issues that were often prevalent for young girls at this time. It differs from The Color Purple in that it is not written from the main characters perspective, so were are only ever onlookers to Pecola’s life. This can be frustrating as it was hard (for me anyway) to connect with her as a character, or feel much empathy for her. The way we see her differs throughout the book, as it is always through different people’s eyes, for example her school friends Frieda and Claudia, and various other characters. I liked these frequent changes in the book, it kept it fresh and exciting the whole way through, and thus very readable.

Again, like The Color Purple, if issues of a harmful, sexual nature upset you, then I advise you do not read this book. It is blunt in the way it discusses these topics, although I think that when discussing things like these, you can’t really afford to just go halfway. I didn’t feel as sorry for Pecola as much as I thought I should have, but really liked how Morrison provides a lengthy backstory to each character she introduces, and this only ties together in the end, as you find out why each one is connected to Pecola. Morrison’s unique style of writing flows almost like poetry, so while some of the content can be upsetting, she manages to strike a balance and it is still a beautiful read.

‘The Circle’ by Dave Eggers

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BLURB: ‘The Circle runs everything – all your internet activity in one easy, safe and visible place. No wonder it is now the world’s most powerful company. So when Mae Holland lands a job at its glittering California campus, she knows she’s made it. But the more her ideals and ambitions become aligned with those of the Circle, the closer she comes to discovering a sinister truth at the heart of an organisation seeking to remake the world in its image….’

READ IF YOU LIKE: Modern day dystopia, powerful companies ‘changing the world’ , the debate about the influence of the internet.

PAGE COUNT: Approx.491

STAR RATING: (★★) – disappointing to say the least

This book was pinned as 2013’s absolute ‘must read’ for the year, and there was a huge amount of hype surrounding it. I felt that it, sadly, did not live up to this. Sure, the premise of the book as a dystopia centred around the Internet is an extremely relevant and interesting issue. But the suspense that would warrant it as a ‘thriller’ just wasn’t there for me. 

The storyline is that bright-eyed and quite two dimensional Mae Holland has just secured herself a job at The Circle, the most prestigious company of the moment, that is ever-growing and aims to connect people via one platform on the internet. These ‘aims’ develop and escalate throughout the book into something quite dangerous, and that’s where the dystopian theme shines through, which I did enjoy. Mae quickly rises through the ranks at the Circle, and with this her ego also rises. The Circle always reminded me of Apple or Google, with its pioneering ideas and innovations, high glass ceilings and infinite amounts of expensive technology, and what a huge company like that is capable of. New ideas and new ways to improve the world is a huge part of the book, and I found myself frequently reading about new inventions from the Circle, with silly names like ‘SoulSearch’ and ‘TruYou’ and ‘PastPerfect’. This was all well and good up to a point, but I didn’t really want 300 unnecessary pages about life at the Circle, new and great ideas from ‘newbies’ and the ‘Three Wise Men’, and most of all, the ins and outs of Mae’s desk job.

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