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Showing 1-10 of 359 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,133 reviews
on December 12, 2014
I picked up this book because I wanted to get some perspective after the recent killings of unarmed black men by police officers. As a middle aged white guy, it was hard for me to put wrap my head around the pain and the anger felt by the residents of Ferguson, by the residents of New York. I have friends that are cops. My Facebook wall filled with persuasive arguments in defense of the police actions. But I saw the video of Eric Garner. I followed the news about Michael Brown. Still, I sympathized with the officers, which I knew in my heart was wrong. I wanted to understand how black people in this country experience life, and starting with the shameful history of slavery seemed like a good start.

Beloved is a truly great book that lives up to the hype. Hard to put down. The writing is excellent. The story is not one of suffering, but one of persevering through the insufferable. It's often hard to read, with the unflinching descriptions of torture and degradation. However, I'm a tiny bit closer to understanding.
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on July 4, 2016
This is a very complex novel based on a true story of a slave woman who killed her children in order to prevent her slave owner from taking them back into slavery. The story does not develop in a linear fashion but rather goes back and forth - sometimes in the present then again in the past. Slowly and bit by bit we learn the story of Beloved, the mysterious girl who shows up one day at Sethe's & Denver's house. The narration, when it gets close to revealing the truth, descents into stream-of-conscience prose; and yet, even this makes sense if one is willing to read carefully and patiently.
Furthermore, I would suggest reading the book before watching the Movie "Beloved" with Opra Winfried (sp.?). It is a spell-binding film, but it makes more sense when one has read the novel first.
Toni Morrison richly deserved her Nobel Prize for Literature. I don't understand why the film did not garner an Oscar for best film, nor all the actors in the major roles.
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on May 2, 2017
Toni Morrison's writing isn't "great". It is mind blowing.

This book reads almost like poetry. It's a really, really, really heavy story- a woman escapes slavery with her four young children, only to reach freedom in Ohio right about the time the Fugitive Act was enacted. Her former owner comes for her and her children, and she makes a desperate decision to take her children's lives, rather than have them live enslaved.

As time goes on, the ghost of the daughter she killed haunts their house and makes trouble in her life. She and her living daughter, Denver, try to summon the ghost, and a few weeks later a mysterious young woman shows up and basically moves in with them.

Highly recommended- take your time and read this one bunch of times. It can be really painful. But it is beautifully written and important to read.
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on May 8, 2017
Wow! What a book. I'm sad that it took me so long to find Toni Morrison. This book is haunting and put me off kilter for the first few chapters. It was a slightly disorienting read at first, trying to figure out who the cast of characters were and who was speaking. Once I got the cadence, it was hard to put down. This book opens up conversation about how trauma binds people together and is generational. Morrison shows us the many facets of dealing with the legacy of slavery and how that changes a person and their trajectory. I asked myself at a several points in the book how I would respond to the situation unfolding. It is heartrending and painful and yet hopeful and beautiful.
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on March 18, 2017
If you can allow yourself to put yourself in the place of a slave, as is described in this book, you can feel the humiliation, grief, indignity, disgrace, fear, degradation and submissiveness that was a slave. Through Toni Morrison's words, I felt these feelings. I don't know how they survived. This is a hard book to read, but I'm glad I did. I believe we all need to understand what was done.
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on October 20, 2014
I came across Toni Morrison's work in college. We did close reading of her work, including this on, Beloved, in class. I like both her fiction and non-fiction work and consider her a "mentor-in my head." She has such a command on technique, and weaves her tales with layers of metaphors and meaning. I find that I have to read each book more than once and a discussion is necessary. When writing my thesis, I struggled with dialogue formatting so much that I doubted myself even when I was correct. As a last ditch effort to get a handle on it, I pulled out this book and allowed Morrison to guide me through her words. That was the key for me, I would refer to her dialogue, and see where I made a mistake, or validate something I was almost sure about. By the time I reached the end of my thesis, I didn't need to refer to Beloved any more, the "training wheels" were taken off. Thank you Toni Morrison!
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on December 13, 2016
I found that I needed to understand the genuine horrors of slavery before I could understand this book. You have to know why Sethe does what she does before you can grasp her actions. Toni Morrison makes that difficult to do . . . maybe she doesn't want anyone to read it who isn't prepared to give their souls to it. So be prepared not to read in your usual way. They aren't just words to be taken in at your normal pace. You'll read, and re-read, and break it down, accept it, then go back and read it again. We all should be changed by this book.
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on July 15, 2016
I am convinced that Toni Morrison is the best writer in the world. My gosh--how can someones soul paint such vivid and emotional characters, era, such real feelings. Not the best place and era to be transported to but Professor Morrison will certainly do it. This book alone put Toni Morrison in a category all by herself... I mean I can go on and on and on and on about her literary style, gifts and etc. If you haven't read this yet it's a must for a realistic escape.
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on April 17, 2017
In Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, Sethe, a runaway slave, has spent the last sixteen years of her life free from Sweet Home, the farm in which she was enslaved. She runs away-- pregnant with her fourth child-- and on the way to her husband’s mother’s house in Ohio. Morrison’s novel reveals that slavery and family will never coexist. Older, wiser characters warned Sethe that she should not love her children so hard because they will most likely be taken from her. Baby Suggs, Sethe’s mother-in-law and a freed slave, had developed this mentality with her children remembering that “the last of her children, whom she barely glanced at when he was born because it wasn't worth the trouble to try to learn features you would never see change into adulthood anyway.” Sethe finally realizes she and her family will never truly be free from enslavement when her owner comes to collect her and her children. Sethe makes the decision that killing her four children herself would be a better loss then letting them go back to Sweet Home. It is either the most painful sacrifice a mother could ever make or the unreasonable actions of a woman who has been destroyed by the disgusting institution of slavery.
Sethe didn’t succeed at killing all of her children for she only killed one, her baby girl soon known as Beloved. After Sethe’s two sons ran away, the house, 124 Bluestone Road, was only home to Sethe, Denver (her fourth child), and the ghost of the baby girl. Morrison uses the ghost to act as the physical burden of the past has on Sethe and her daughter’s life calling the house it haunted “spiteful” and [f]ull of a baby’s venom.” With the character Beloved, Morrison explores one of the novel’s central themes: how can a human being move past the most horrific memories of slavery. In this case, Sethe must not only overcome slavery’s violence on her body but also the overwhelming trauma that comes from killing one’s own baby to prevent her from experiencing the same violence Sethe endured. Morrison utilizes the ghost as constant and haunting reminder of Sethe’s actions and slavery’s imprint on the body and mind. Rather than creating an intangible set of painful memories, Beloved is a tangible and “spiteful” reminder of Sethe’s actions. She is not allowed to forget the past. Her daughter slowly drains the life away from Sethe: starving her and turning her eyes “bright but dead.” Yet, Morrison notes that anything “dead coming back to life hurts" and that, in order for Sethe to live a life outside of slavery, she must overcome the act of killing because “it left her no room to imagine, let alone plan for, the next day.” Ultimately, Beloved and the act of killing is not something that should be relived and remembered; rather, Morrison seems to suggest that it should be “disremembered.” This was “not a story to pass on”. Instead, Sethe must move on. The past is too ugly and the scars on her back are too profound.
Of course, we can’t all relate to the horrific pain that Sethe must endure in her life. Yet, trauma and the memories embedded in trauma are real for so many of us. From soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan or Somalia or Syria or any number of frightening conflicts to women who are still too often victims of sexual violence, we have to find ways to overcome the pain and discover ways to live. The novel Beloved is a magical, horrific, beautiful and ugly story of death, extreme love, slavery, and redemption that touches on our most powerful emotions: familial love, overwhelming anger, deepest regret, and the yearning for peace. This is why I give Beloved FIVE STARS.
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VINE VOICEon September 29, 2009
Having read and enjoyed Sula by Toni Morrison, I was excited to finally pick up a copy of Beloved. In this book Sethe and her daughter Denver live alone in a house in Ohio shortly after the Civil War. Sethe's two sons, run away from home by the time they are thirteen.
The house is haunted by the ghost of Sethe's 2 year old unnamed baby, simply known as Beloved. The haunting is severe and poltergeist-like, Beloved throws things, the house rattles and shakes, yet Sethe refuses to leave. No one visits Sethe and Denver, they don't want to go near the house, everyone knows it is haunted.

One day, an old acquaintance of Sethe's, a man named Paul D, shows up at her doorstep. The two become involved right away. Paul D knew Sethe years ago when she was first married and lived on a plantation before they were freed. He is happy to reconnect with her all these years later.
Not shortly after, a woman shows up in front of Sethe's home. Something about her is different, she can't talk much, is very sleepy and her skin is baby soft. When asked her name, she simply spells out the word, 'Beloved'.

Sethe lets Beloved into her home, gives her a place to sleep and takes her in for the time being. The family just figures she is a wanderer with no place to go. Beloved soon becomes obsessed with Sethe, and Sethe herself thinks of Beloved as her own child.

So many scenes stood out for me. One part in particular is when Denver walks in on her mother kneeling by her bed, praying, and sees a baby's white dress next to her, hugging Sethe around her waist. Just the thought of how this baby ghost still clings to her mother, and how even in death, mother and child are forever connected, gave me chills while reading.
Several scenes in this book also shocked me. If you've read this one, you know what I mean. As shocking as it was, I did enjoy this read. The characters are well written, the plot was excellent, the writing was fantastic and I found myself not wanting to put this book down. This is the kind of book that once you are done reading, you kind of just sit back and think about it. It's the kind of read you want to discuss.
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