Sunday, November 4, 2007

Beloved by Toni Morrison

iconiconI read Toni Morrison's Beloved last week — another rather belated attempt to celebrate Banned Books Week by reading a challenged book. (This being an even more belated attempt to write about it!)

It seems to me that most banned or challenged books are also some of the best pieces of literature available for our young people. The writing is usually superb, and the issues are usually tough but worthy. After all, if they weren't very good, no one would read them and they wouldn't be a threat.

In other words, banning a book is usually (to me) one of the highest compliments you can pay the author.

However, I did not enjoy Beloved as much as I'd thought I would. This seems to be one of the rare cases where I did not find the story to be compelling, or the way the issues were addressed to be all that remarkable. Granted, the story told slavery the way it was, which is most likely the reason why it was banned — God forbid our teens learn that rich whites used to do bad things to slaves.

Don't get me wrong — I think it's great that Toni Morrison described the horrors of slavery (and the impact it had on blacks for years afterward), but I just didn't get into the story. However, the idea of a murdered daughter coming back "in the flesh" 18 years later is pretty unique, and I think there are probably plenty of people who would enjoy it much more than I did.

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

iconiconI read this book a little more than a week ago: Second Glance, by Jodi Picoult. Being a ghost story, the book was quite worthy of the season.

I've always enjoyed novels about ghosts and the supernatural. The idea of the spirits of the dead coming back, on whatever mission, has always fascinated me. And Second Glance didn't disappoint at all. Jodi Picoult is as skilled at writing ghost stories as she is at creating courtroom suspense and compelling characters.