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Great Women in Literature – A Review of Toni Morrison’s Novel, A Mercy

morrison_t1Let’s talk about the positive points of A Mercy:  Author, Ms. Morrison writes like jazz – thick, mellow, rhythmic, but very deliberate.  For instance, she describes the early American landscape as if it was a physical utopia even though she was using words like hard and packed when describing the harsh, undeveloped earth.  That is to say her imageries are very masterfully done. I have a friend who has the same technique.  She can tell you that your fly is open in such a smooth way that you take it as a compliment and want to buy her lunch! 

I absolutely loved Ms. Morrison’s word pictures and her absence of vulgarity.  It was like reading a film noir – you know what’s happening but the author is bowing to your rational thought to allow the story to happen. The very dignified way she describes intimate moments of lovers or even the subhuman treatment of the enslaved women and men of this novel is a feat within itself.  Each time I closed the book after reading a section, I could just feel the heartbeats and moods of the different characters.

Now let’s talk about the negative points:  A Mercy was sometimes a difficult read for me.  I was only halfway the book when I realized the style of Ms. Morrison.  Basically, without any introduction, the next character would begin narrating.  Although a genius concept, it was a bit confusing at first.

And I ain’t gon’ lie, I had to search out a synopsis to make sure I understood the important details.  I had to go back and reread portions to see what I saw one more time.  Although I love a challenge, I also want the author to clear the way for me, make it transparent without spelling it out.  In other words, meet the reader in the middle of the road – not being too easy or too hard.  Due to the colloquialism of the slaves and changing of the narration, it was a bit harder than I wanted it to be.

In conclusion, did I enjoy A Mercy?  Yes, because in the end, I got it.  I got the connection – a mother sending her girl-child away hoping for a better life for her.  This mother was hoping against hope that her baby girl learned the lessons of how to be truly free even though a slave.  That mother’s decision turned out to be a mercy indeed.


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