Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beloved by Toni Morrison

This week happens to be Banned Books Week.  I thought I should draw a little attention to that because censorship is not at all ok with us here at The Family Addiction.  Not to mention some of the books on the list are amazing.  As it turns out, I read a lot of banned books.  Without really knowing it.  I'm a rebel like that.  And then, Carrie and Amy had the genius idea that we should review some scary books.  As it turns out, I read a lot of scary books.  And then, I found a book that fits both categories.  I'm awesome like that.

You may have noticed that I've reviewed two other Toni Morrison novels.  I think (and I'm not alone, you don't get to be a best-selling author by just having one person as a fan) she's one of the best at setting a mood.  In Beloved, the mood is heavy, frantic, desperate, and woeful.   In this story, like many of Miss Morrison's, focuses on the lives of slaves and how they lived as slaves and as free people in the northern parts of the United States.  Sethe has found her way across the Ohio River to her mother-in-law's house in Cincinnati.  She's fleeing the plantation in Kentucky where she's been enslaved for years.  Once in Cincinnati, she lives with her mother-in-law and her four children until the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 gives the owners of the plantation the right to "reclaim" her and her children.  When Sethe sees men from the plantation appear, she takes her children to the tool shed and tries to keep them safe.  Safe from the men who are there.  Safe from going back to a life where there is no chance of being anything other than someone's property.  Safe from never having a voice.  Safe from never being human.  Safe from constant work with no reward.  Safe from the physical world.  Sethe tries to kill her children because that's the only way to keep them safe.  She succeeds in killing her two year-old, who is later buried in a grave marked only as 'Beloved.'

That's a heavy kind of love.  It's the kind of love that doesn't go away.  And neither does Beloved.  She becomes the haunting spirit in the house in Cincinnati.  She throws two-year old tantrums and chases people from the house.  Sethe's boys run away from home as soon as they are old enough, and so it is Sethe and Denver (Sethe's other daughter) who bear the stigma of this heavy love that won't leave.  But when Paul D shows up at the house, as a connection to the old plantation life, things start to change.  Paul D gets the family out in public for the first time in years.  He helps Sethe see that Denver, who is alive but might not be well, won't be able to live any kind of life if they constantly try to appease the whims of an invisible two year-old.  Beloved is no longer the focus.  And like any two-year old who is being ignored is wont to do, Beloved brings the focus back to her.  She shows up.  It is creepy and heart-breaking and terrifying.  

I'm not going to tell you the rest.  You need to get a copy and read it for yourself.  Beloved is often banned from classrooms because it contains seriously difficult concepts.  It does not treat slavery with kid gloves.  Beloved talks openly and sadly honestly about the parts of slavery that are even more difficult to discuss than living conditions and cruel conditions.  The book tackles the psychological impact of being seen and treated as sub-human and how that way of thinking leads to horrific things. But it's an amazing book, and banning it won't erase that part of history.  So go get a copy.  Read it with all the lights on and then look at the other books on the Banned Books list and read one of those too.
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