Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.
Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.
*May Contain Spoilers*
Wow. I seriously cannot believe I have never read this book before now. Though, I can honestly say that I know if I would have read it any more than three or five years ago, I don't think it would have had the same emotional impact as reading it now. However, I also think that if I ever read this book again, the emotional impact will increase with my age as I, as a woman, can connect more and more with Sethe.
Though I am not African American, I think Sethe's story transcends the differences between her and the female reader. Her story is raw and ugly and heartbreaking and gut-wrenching and horrifying. However, it is also hopeful and mystical, even though it's a little frightening throughout. I felt connected to Sethe through her guilt, her experiences, and her scars as Morrison bares all for her reader. I also felt connected to Sethe through her hope for the future, even though the guilt she feels over her past mistakes nearly kills her in the end.
What I most enjoyed about this book were the mystical elements that surround Beloved's return and the interesting dynamic her ghostly figure created between the characters. However, again, Beloved also made the book a little scary as the reader doesn't know if Beloved has returned from the other side to offer peace, cause suffering, or a little of both.
For readers who like novels that show no fear in telling a story that will prompt change -- this book will exceed expectations. It also has a lot to offer in social, cultural, and historical contexts as it takes place in the late 1800s. Though it was not by any means a 'happy' book, I'm glad I read it and even through the darkness, Beloved offers a feeling of brightness.
Rating: 4/5 Cups