The Bluest Eye

Guileless and without vanity, we were still in love with ourselves then. We felt comfortable in our own skins, enjoyed the news that our senses released to us, admired our dirt, cultivated our scars, and could not comprehend this unworthiness. Jealousy we understood and thought natural–a desire to have what somebody else had; but envy was a strange, new feeling for us. And all the time we knew that Maureen Peal was not the Enemy and not worthy of such intense hatred. The Thing to fear was the Thing that made her beautiful, and not us.

— from The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, 1970

This book hooked me, not because it was a clean “feel good” read, and not because I could really relate to the racial issues in it, but because it dug deep into the truth and pulled out raw story wherever it went. At first I didn’t understand where the story was going, and then I realized that all those different chapters, stories about the different people involved, built up a world where girls grow up, find out things about themselves, make choices, live through the good and bad, or don’t live. So this book is not really about a little black girl who wants blue eyes, and it’s not really about two sisters who learn about envy. It’s not even about the difference between their world and the Dick and Jane storybook world. It is more about revealing the whole eye-opening truth of a world that is often seen only through the corner of your eye as you quickly look away.

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