First Lines Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Wandering Words.
What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?
Nuns go by as quiet as lust, and drunken men and sober eyes sing in the lobby of the Greek hotel. Rosemary Villanucci, our next-door friend who lives above her father’s café, sits in a 1939 Buick eating bread and butter. She rolls down the window to tell my sister Frieda and me that we can’t come in. We stare at her, wanting her bread, but more than that wanting to poke the arrogance out of her eyes and smash the pride of ownership that curls her chewing mouth. When she comes out of the car we will beat her up, make red marks on her white skin, and she will cry and ask us do we want her to pull her pants down. We will say no. We don’t know what we should feel or do if she does, but whenever she asks us, we know she is offering us something precious and that our own pride must be asserted by refusing to accept.
Read on to find out what book this excerpt is from!
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves’ garden do not bloom. Pecola’s life does change- in painful, devastating ways.
What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child’s yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Tony Morrisons’s most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough!!
Definitely read it if you’re looking to put a little more emotional pain into your life, because boy is this book emotionally painful.
To give you a bit of background, it takes place when the U.S. is still slowly recovering from the Great Depression, in a poor, racially divided neighborhood. Everything about Pecola Breedlove, our “protagonist”, is ugly- from her looks, to her house, to her name. It’s heartbreaking watching her crumble apart in the face of societal pressure and judgement.
I actually reviewed this book recently- check it out here and I will love you forever. Even more than I do now, anyways. 😉