Breath, Eyes, Memory

Breath, Eyes, Memory

4.2 35
by Edwidge Danticat
     
 

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At an astonishingly young age, Edwidge Danticat has become one of our most celebrated new novelists, a writer who evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti—and the enduring strength of Haiti's women—with a vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people's suffering and courage.

At the age of twelve, Sophie…  See more details below

Overview

At an astonishingly young age, Edwidge Danticat has become one of our most celebrated new novelists, a writer who evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti—and the enduring strength of Haiti's women—with a vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people's suffering and courage.

At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti—to the women who first reared her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A distinctive new voice with a sensitive insight into Haitian culture distinguishes this graceful debut novel about a young girl's coming of age under difficult circumstances. ``I come from a place where breath, eyes and memory are one, a place where you carry your past like the hair on your head,'' says narrator Sophie Caco, ruminating on the chains of duty and love that bind the courageous women in her family. The burden of being a woman in Haiti, where purity and chastity are a matter of family honor, and where ``nightmares are passed on through generations like heirlooms,'' is Danticat's theme. Born after her mother Martine was raped, Sophie is raised by her Tante Atie in a small town in Haiti. At 12 she joins Martine in New York, while Atie returns to her native village to care for indomitable Grandmother Ife. Neither Sophie nor Martine can escape the weight of the past, resulting in a pattern of insomnia, bulimia, sexual trauma and mental anguish that afflicts both of them and leads inexorably to tragedy. Though her tale is permeated with a haunting sadness, Danticat also imbues it with color and magic, beautifully evoking the pace and character of Creole life, the feel of both village and farm communities, where the omnipresent Tontons Macoute mean daily terror, where voudon rituals and superstitions still dominate even as illiterate inhabitants utilize such 20th-century conveniences as cassettes to correspond with emigres in America. In simple, lyrical prose enriched by an elegiac tone and piquant observations, she makes Sophie's confusion and guilt, her difficult assimilation into American culture and her eventual emotional liberation palpably clear.
Library Journal
Told from the viewpoint of a young Haitian American, this novel concentrates on relationships between generations of women, both in Haiti and in the United States. Sophie's mother leaves Haiti to find work in the States, and Sopie soon follows, growing up troubled in New York until she exorcises her demons in a Santeria ceremony. The book's strength lies in the rarity of its Haitian viewpoint, a voice seldom heard in American literature. However, the writing itself falls a bit flat. The characters and plot are interesting, but the narrative style doesn't evoke the emotional response that would seem appropriate to the action. Danticat is herself a 24-year-old Haitian American who, like the novel's narrator, came to the United States in her early teens to join her family. Her first novel shows promise of better works in the future. Recommended for larger fiction collections.-- Marie F. Jones, Muskingum Coll. Lib., New Concord, Ohio
Washington Post Book World
A novel that rewards the reader again and again with small but exquisite and unforgettable epiphanies.
From the Publisher
Praise for Breath, Eyes, Memory

Oprah Book Club Selection

"Vibrant, magic . . . Danticat's elegant, intricate tale wraps readers into the haunting life of a young Haitian girl."
—The Boston Globe

"Danticat's calm clarity of vision takes on the resonance of folk art . . . Extraordinarily successful."
—The New York Times Book Review

"A novel that rewards the reader again and again with small but exquisite and unforgettable epiphanies."
Washington Post Book World

“Written in prose as clear as a bell, magical as a butterfly, and resonant as drum talk . . . An impressive debut.”
—Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies

“Reading Edwidge Danticat’s first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, for the first time in 2015 is a remarkable experience . . . It is clear in retrospect that this is a novel whose literary resonance has been profound, one that opened many doors for others—without it, would we have The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?”
—Barnes and Noble Review

"Danticat has created a stirring tale of life in two worlds: the spirit-rich land of her ancestry, whose painful themes work their way through lives across generational lines, and her adopted country, the United States, where a young immigrant girl must negotiate cold, often hostile terrain, even as she spars with painful demons of her past."
Emerge

"A distinctive new voice with a sensitive insight into Haitian culture distinguishes this graceful debut novel . . . In simple, lyrical prose enriched by an elegiac tone and piquant observations, [Danticat] makes Sophie's confusion and guilt, her difficult assimilation into American culture and her eventual emotional liberation palpably clear."
Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375705045
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/1998
Series:
Oprah's Book Club Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.15(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.55(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

A flattened and drying daffodil was dangling off the little card that I had made my aunt Atie for Mother’s Day. I pressed my palm over the flower and squashed it against the plain beige cardboard. When I turned the corner near the house, I saw her sitting in an old rocker in the yard, staring at a group of children crushing dried yellow leaves into the ground. The leaves had been left in the sun to dry. They would be burned that night at the konbit potluck dinner.
     I put the card back in my pocket before I got to the yard. When Tante Atie saw me, she raised the piece of white cloth she was embroidering and waved it at me. When I stood in front of her, she opened her arms just wide enough for my body to fit into them.
    “How was school?” she asked, with a big smile.
    She bent down and kissed my forehead, then pulled me down onto her lap.
    “School was all right,” I said. “I like everything but those reading classes they let parents come to in the afternoon. Everybody’s parents come except you. I never have anyone to read with, so Monsieur Augustin always pairs me off with an old lady who wants to learn her letters, but does not have children at the school.”
    “I do not want a pack of children teaching me how to read,” she said. “The young should learn from the old. Not the other way. Besides, I have work.”
    A blush of embarrassment rose to her brown cheeks.
    “At one time, I would have given anything to be in school. But not at my age. My time is gone. Cooking and cleaning, looking after others, that’s my school now. That schoolhouse is your school. Cutting cane was the only thing for a young one to do when I was your age. That is why I never want to hear you complain about your school.” She adjusted a pink head rag wrapped tightly around her head and dashed off a quick smile revealing two missing side teeth. “As long as you do not have to work in the fields, it does not matter that I will never learn to read that ragged old Bible under my pillow.”
    Whenever she was sad, Tante Atie would talk about the sugar cane fields, where she and my mother practically lived when they were children. They saw people die there from sunstroke every day. Tante Atie said that, one day while they were all working together, her father—my grandfather—stopped to wipe his forehead, leaned forward, and died. My grandmother took the body in her arms and tried to scream the life back into it. They all kept screaming and hollering, as my grandmother’s tears bathed the corpse’s face. Nothing would bring my grandfather back.

The bòlèt man was coming up the road. He was tall and yellow like an amber roach. The children across the road lined up by the fence to watch him, clutching one another as he whistled and strolled past them.
    This albino, whose name was Chabin, was the biggest lottery agent in the village. He was thought to have certain gifts that had nothing to do with the lottery, but which Tante Atie believed put the spirits on his side. For example, if anyone was chasing him, he could turn into a snake with one flip of his tongue. Sometimes, he could see the future by looking into your eyes, unless you closed your soul to him by thinking of a religious song and prayer while in his presence.
    I could tell that Tante Atie was thinking of one of her favorite verses as he approached. Death is the shepherd of man and in the final dawn, good will be the master of evil.
    “Onè, mes belles, Atie, Sophie.”
    Chabin winked at us from the front gate. He had no eyelashes—or seemed to have none. His eyebrows were tawny and fine like corn silk, but he had a thick head of dirty red hair.
    “How are you today?” he asked.
    “Today, we are fine,” Tante Atie said. “We do not know about tomorrow.”
    “Ki nimewo today?” he asked. “What numbers you playing?”
    “Today, we play my sister Martine’s age,” Tante Atie said. “Sophie’s mother’s age. Thirty-one. Perhaps it will bring me luck.”
    “Thirty-one will cost you fifty cents,” he said.
    Tante Atie reached into her bra and pulled out one gourde.
    “We will play the number twice,” she said.
    Even though Tante Atie played faithfully, she had never won at the bòlèt. Not even a small amount, not even once.
    She said the lottery was like love. Providence was not with her, but she was patient.
    The albino wrote us a receipt with the numbers and the amount Tante Atie had given him.
    The children cringed behind the gate as he went on his way. Tante Atie raised her receipt towards the sun to see it better.
    “There, he wrote your name,” I said pointing to the letters, “and there, he wrote the number thirty-one.”
    She ran her fingers over the numbers as though they were quilted on the paper.
    “Would it not be wonderful to read?” I said for what must have been the hundredth time.
    “I tell you, my time is passed. School is not for people my age.”
    The children across the street were piling up the leaves in Madame Augustin’s yard. The bigger ones waited on line as the smaller ones dropped onto the pile, bouncing to their feet, shrieking and laughing. They called one another’s names: Foi, Hope, Faith, Espérance, Beloved, God-Given, My Joy, First Born, Last Born, Aséfi, Enough-Girls, Enough-Boys, Délivrance, Small Misery, Big Misery, No Misery. Names as bright and colorful as the giant poincianas in Madame Augustin’s garden.
    They grabbed one another and fell to the ground, rejoicing as though they had flown past the towering flame trees that shielded the yard from the hot Haitian sun.
    “You think these children would be kind to their mothers and clean up those leaves,” Tante Atie said. “Instead, they are making a bigger mess.”
    “They should know better,” I said, secretly wishing that I too could swim in their sea of dry leaves.
    Tante Atie threw her arms around me and squeezed me so hard that the lemon-scented perfume, which she dabbed across her chest each morning, began to tickle my nose.
    “Sunday is Mother’s Day, non?” she said, loudly sucking her teeth. “The young ones, they should show their mothers they want to help them. What you see in your children today, it tells you about what they will do for you when you are close to the grave.”
    I appreciated Tante Atie, but maybe I did not show it enough. Maybe she wanted to be a real mother, have a real daughter to wear matching clothes with, hold hands and learn to read with.
    “Mother’s Day will make you sad, won’t it, Tante Atie?”
    “Why do you say that?” she asked.
    “You look like someone who is going to be sad.”
    “You were always wise beyond your years, just like your mother.”
    She gently held my waist as I climbed down from her lap. Then she cupped her face in both palms, her elbows digging into the pleats of her pink skirt.
    I was going to sneak the card under her pillow Saturday night so that she would find it as she was making the bed on Sunday morning. But the way her face drooped into her palms made me want to give it to her right then.
    I dug into my pocket, and handed it to her. Inside was a poem that I had written for her.
    She took the card from my hand. The flower nearly fell off. She pressed the tape against the short stem, forced the baby daffodil back in its place, and handed the card back to me. She did not even look inside.
    “Not this year,” she said.
    “Why not this year?”
    “Sophie, it is not mine. It is your mother’s. We must send it to your mother.”
    I only knew my mother from the picture on the night table by Tante Atie’s pillow. She waved from inside the frame with a wide grin on her face and a large flower in her hair. She witnessed everything that went on in the house, each step, each stumble, each hug and kiss. She saw us when we got up, when we went to sleep, when we laughed, when we got upset at each other. Her expression never changed. Her grin never went away.
    I sometimes saw my mother in my dreams. She would chase me through a field of wildflowers as tall as the sky. When she caught me, she would try to squeeze me into the small frame so I could be in the picture with her. I would scream and scream until my voice gave out, then Tante Atie would come and save me from her grasp.
    I slipped the card back in my pocket and got up to go inside. Tante Atie lowered her head and covered her face with her hands. Her fingers muffled her voice as she spoke.
    “When I am done feeling bad, I will come in and we will find you a very nice envelope for your card. Maybe it will get to your mother after the fact, but she will welcome it because it will come directly from you.”
    “It is your card,” I insisted.
    “It is for a mother, your mother.” She motioned me away with a wave of her hand. “When it is Aunt’s Day, you can make me one.”
    “Will you let me read it to you?”
    “It is not for me to hear, my angel. It is for your mother.”
    I plucked out the flower and dropped it under my shoes. Then I put the card back in my pocket.
    Across the road, the children were yelling each other’s names, inviting passing friends to join them. They sat in a circle and shot the crackling leaves high above their heads. The leaves landed on their faces and clung to their hair. It was almost as though they were caught in a rain of daffodils.
    I continued to watch the children as Tante Atie prepared what she was bringing to the potluck. She put the last touches on a large tray of sweet potato pudding that filled the whole house with its molasses scent.
    As soon as the sun set, lamps were lit all over our quarter. The smaller children sat playing marbles near whatever light they could find. The older boys huddled in small groups near the school yard fence as they chatted over their books. The girls formed circles around their grandmothers’ feet, learning to sew.
    Tante Atie had promised that in another year or so she would teach me how to sew.
    “You should not stare,” she said as we passed a nearsighted old woman whispering mystical secrets of needle and thread to a little girl. The girl was squinting as her eyes dashed back and forth to keep up with the movements of her grandmother’s old fingers.
    “Can I start sewing soon?” I asked Tante Atie.
    “Soon as I have a little time,” she said.
    She put her hand on my shoulder and bent down to kiss my cheek.
    “Is something troubling you?” I asked.
    “Don’t let my troubles upset you,” she said.
    “When I made the card, I thought it would make you happy. I did not mean to make you sad.”
    “You have never done anything to make me sad,” she said. “That is why this whole thing is going to be so hard.”
    A cool evening breeze circled the dust around our feet.
    “You should put on your blouse with the long sleeves,” she said. “So you don’t catch cold.”
    I wanted to ask her what was going to be so hard, but she pressed her finger over my lips and pointed towards the house.
    She said “Go” and so I went.

One by one the men began to file out of their houses. Some carried plantains, others large Negro yams, which made your body itch if you touched them raw. There were no men in Tante Atie’s and my house so we carried the food ourselves to the yard where the children had been playing.
    The women entered the yard with tins of steaming ginger tea and baskets of cassava bread. Tante Atie and I sat near the gate, she behind the women and me behind the girls.
    Monsieur Augustin stacked some twigs with a rusty pitchfork and dropped his ripe plantains and husked corn on the pile. He lit a long match and dropped it on the top of the heap. The flame spread from twig to twig, until they all blended into a large smoky fire.
    Monsieur Augustin’s wife began to pass around large cups of ginger tea. The men broke down into small groups and strolled down the garden path, smoking their pipes.
Old tantes—aunties—and grandmothers swayed cooing babies on their laps. The teenage boys and girls drifted to dark corners, hidden by the shadows of rustling banana leaves.
    Tante Atie said that the way these potlucks started was really a long time ago in the hills. Back then, a whole village would get together and clear a field for planting. The group would take turns clearing each person’s land, until all the land in the village was cleared and planted. The women would cook large amounts of food while the men worked. Then at sunset, when the work was done, everyone would gather together and enjoy a feast of eating, dancing, and laughter.
    Here in Croix-des-Rosets, most of the people were city workers who labored like Tante Atie in baseball or clothing factories and lived in small cramped houses to support their families back in the provinces. Tante Atie said that we were lucky to live in a house as big as ours, with a living room to receive our guests, plus a room for the two of us to sleep in. Tante Atie said that only people living on New York money or people with professions, like Monsieur Augustin, could afford to live in a house where they did not have to share a yard with a pack of other people. The others had to live in huts, shacks, or one-room houses that, sometimes, they had to build themselves.
    In spite of where they might live, this potluck was open to everybody who wanted to come. There was no field to plant, but the workers used their friendships in the factories or their grouping in the shared houses as a reason to get together, eat, and celebrate life.

Tante Atie kept looking at Madame Augustin as she passed the tea to each person in the women’s circle around us.
    “How is Martine?” Madame Augustin handed Tante Atie a cup of steaming tea. Tante Atie’s hand jerked and the tea sprinkled the back of Madame Augustin’s hand.
    “I saw the facteur bring you something big yesterday.” Madame Augustin blew into her tea as she spoke. “Did your sister send you a gift?”
    Tante Atie tried to ignore the question.
    “Was it a gift?” insisted Madame Augustin. “It is not the child’s birthday again, is it? She was just twelve, no less than two months ago.”
    I wondered why Tante Atie had not showed me the big package. Usually, my mother would send us two cassettes with our regular money allowance. One cassette would be for me and Tante Atie, the other for my grandmother. Usually, Tante Atie and I would listen to our cassette together. Maybe she was saving it for later.
    I tried to listen without looking directly at the women’s faces. That would have been disrespectful, as bad as speaking without being spoken to.
    “How is Martine doing over there?” asked Stéphane, the albino’s wife. She was a sequins piece worker, who made herself hats from leftover factory sequins. That night she was wearing a gold bonnet that make her look like a star had landed on her head.
    “My sister is fine, thank you,” Tante Atie finally answered.
    Madame Augustin took a sip of her tea and looked over at me. She gave me a reprimanding look that said: Why aren’t you playing with the other children? I quickly lowered my eyes, pretending to be studying some random pebbles on the ground.     “I would wager that it is very nice over there in New York,” Madame Augustin said.
    “I suppose it could be,” said Tante Atie.
    “Why have you never gone?” asked Madame Augustin.
    “Perhaps it is not yet the time,” said Tante Atie.
    “Perhaps it is,” corrected Madame Augustin.
    She leaned over Tante Atie’s shoulder and whispered in a not so low voice, “When are you going to tell us, Atie, when the car comes to take you to the airplane?”
    “Is Martine sending for you?” asked the albino’s wife.
    Suddenly, all the women began to buzz with questions.
    “When are you leaving?”
    “Can it really be as sudden as that?”
    “Will you marry there?”
    “Will you remember us?”
    “I am not going anywhere,” Tante Atie interrupted.
    “I have it on good information that it was a plane ticket that you received,” said Madame Augustin. “If you are not going, then who was the plane ticket for?”
    All their eyes fell on me at the same time.
    “Is the mother sending for the child?” asked the albino’s wife.
    “I saw the delivery,” said Madame Augustin. “Then she is sending for the child,” they concluded. Suddenly a large hand was patting my shoulder. “This is very good news,” said the accompanying voice. “It is the best thing that is ever going to happen to you.”

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What People are saying about this

Clarence Major
Skillful, lyrical.
Kelvin Christopher James
A wise child's exploration - sensual, moving, clear-sighted as the pearly mornings that dawn in her Haitian sky.
Julia Alvarez
Sophie's story of liberation is one that carries the reader from her childhood in Haiti to her rebellious adolescence in New York to her eventual return to her homeland and reconciliation with her mother. I did not want to stop for a minute on this heart-rending and heart-warming journey. Breath, Eyes, Memory is a Haitain-American novel I was waiting for.

Meet the Author

Edwidge Danticat is the author of numerous books, including Brother, I’m Dying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a National Book Award finalist; Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Dew Breaker, winner of the inaugural Story Prize; The Farming of Bones, which won an American Book Award for fiction in 1999; and Claire of the Sea Light. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she has been published in The New YorkerThe New York Times, and elsewhere.

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Breath, Eyes, Memory 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
JDBTeach More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. I am a 26 year old Black woman, who (thankfully) has never been exposed to the devastating effects of war or poverty. Danticat skillfully brings her readers in and makes us feel the pains and few joys of Martine and the other characters. I ashamedly didn't want to read a book about Haitian suffering because I just didn't want to hear about it, but after reading this, I realize how selfish and ignorant I was of the culture and the history. There's much to learn from the literature and language of Edwidge Danticat. I look forward to reading more of her pieces.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat is a very moving book. Reading this book and being a Latin-American has given me the opportunity to learn and embrace some of Haitian culture. 'I spent the whole week with my ear pressed against the wall, listening to him rehearse. He rehearsed day and hight, sometimes twelve to ten hours without stoping'(pg.71). I love the fact that the author kept it real. Its NOT a story of too little or too much detail, it's right on point. The main character Sophie Caco is just like many teenagers now in days, and I don't blame her for taking the actions that she did. Edwidge was able to bring out the truth in life: life isn't always perfect. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Breath, Eyes, Memory is a book of Martin's fears that are frequently with her in every corner of her life because of her daughter. Sophie can not find a way to help her with her problems so she meets a guy named Joseph and she believes he'll be there for her But instead her life worsens. this book is a overlap of her life events and she feels as if it is never going to end.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
an interesting account of how expectant -for lack of a better word- parents can be ..loved it
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow!! I was very compelled by the story that this new author is portraying. She goes places that no other author has ever went before. She gives you deep feeling and she shows the hard life that one must face inorder to leave your hometown, and to get out of the life that you where born into. I really liked the union that the mothers and daughters display, and how they overcame the obstacles that had separated them. And, it was a good thing because not soon after that the mother died, and I feel that if Sophie didn't rekindle that personal, close, mother-daughter relationship, she would have regreted it for the rest of her life and it would have affected her relationship with her daughter. Finally, even though the ending was sad and remorseful, it showed us that we all go through deaths and trials. And in the end,'you will know how to give an answer to the one that is calling you.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Breath Eyes Memory is a powerful and compeling novel. It provides a perspective on life that may be unfarmiliar to people in privilaged societies.It is the story of a girl's painful journey from Haitian girlhood into womanhood in New York City.The growth of the character, Sophie travels along smoothly, and at the end we the readers finally connect to the characters.The journey Sophie takes is a rough one with a lot of ups and downs that affects the rest of her life. She learns that life can be cruel and harsh but that only makes her stronger. As she moves on,she never forgets her roots and always carries her past with her. The novel also reveals that the bond between a mother and daughter is very strong. Edwidge Danticat captures her readers with this emotional story with a great lesson to be learned about life, family and the history that comes with it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Breath Eyes Memory is a novel written by Edwidge Danticat. The story is about a young girl Sophie Caco, who grows up to be a women while she was surrounded by the Haitian culture. The story begins with Sophie who was about age six living with her aunt Atie in Haiti. Sophie¿s mother, Martine, leaves Sophie in Haiti to live with her aunt because she is trying to recover from her problems. At age twelve, Sophie¿s mother sends for her to come live with her in New York. However Sophie refuse to go because her mothers made her do a traditional virginity test. When Sophie arrives in New York, Martine explains her mother used to test her too and so did many other mothers. But as a result Martine was raped by a stranger leading to Sophie¿s birth. When Sophie was 18 years she fell in love with Joseph an older man who lives next door to her mother. Joseph was a musician whom Martine did not approved of. As a result Sophie was not able to forget the fact that her mother made her id the testing and every time she sleeps with her husband she would tend to remember the testing. Sophie tried to escape her pain by visiting her grandma and her aunt in Haiti leaving her mom and Joseph worried in New York. Sophie mother, Martine decided to go to Haiti to bring Sophie home. Sophie and Martine begin to work on their mother-daughter relationship and struggles they have faced throughout their lives. The story had a tragic ending. The question now is did Sophie learns to accept the relationship with mother?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was off the chains i love this book. it was sad but good at the same time. i love this book cause it takes place in my native land HAITI!!!!! holla haiti is the best. Edwidge is throwin it up for her country
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is the best. this girl is talented and the only author I know who is able to capture the true essense of a typical haitian girl. i have nothing but praise for her work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I give this book 3 stars...it was interesting to read but it didn't have enough suspense. I do plan to read some of her other books, though.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Edwidge Danticat really captures the traditions and her memories in Haiti when she wrote Breath, Eyes, Memory. This book is written about a young girl named Sophie Caco who had lived with her aunt in Haiti for as long as she could remember. At twelve she was reunited with her mother in New York, where she was sent to live. She went through several changes and uncovered many secrets about her past and her families past. Sophie and her mother fought hundreds of inside and outside battles that they cannot explain and no doctors could help. It seemed like the only resolution to their problem was to die; but would that end their problems, or would their demons follow them into their past lives? This book was an easy read; it kept me engaged and kept me guessing what was going to happen next. I don¿t think I would read this book again but I would read some of Danticat¿s other books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this analyze I make sure to make the difference between violence and gender discrimination in the Haitian society as a whole and the tests practices as a phenomenon of the Croix-des-Rosets¿ tradition. As Haitian, this is the first time that I ever heard talking about such practices in my country. But when I talked to people in my community only the elders know about such practices. They told me that this practice did really exist but in remote area of the Haitian peasantry. The necessity for a man to have a virgin girl as wife when they get married was only a tradition that some peasant communities have kept for a long time but that is not anymore an issue. After the publication of this book, many Haitian women living in America have been protested because the author did not insist on the fact that the tests are not an aberrant practice of the Haitian society but the tradition of some localities. We don¿t find ¿crime of honor¿ in all Muslim societies, but some of them do have it. The author does not emphasize on how the US society has influence her life and change her view of the Haitian society. The only aspect that shows this difference is the fact that she left her mom¿s household to marry a man as old as her own mother. She jumps from one period of her life to another one but leave a lot questions to ask of what she has been doing in the while. She never explains if she did finish with college, had a job or stay at home, the specific period that this story happened. With such information the reader would have a better understanding of the book in relation to space and time. In term of historical value the author made a non-pardonable mistake. She did mention that the day she left the country was on the same day that they were changing the airport¿s name (p. 33). This fact happened after the dismantlement of the paramilitary knows as the ¿tonton Macoutes¿, so when she went back in Haiti both times; there were not anymore Tonton Macoutes but another paramilitary. And the differences between those two groups are quiet important in relation to time and space. If there were really the famous tonton macoutes she would never forget to mention their famous heavy blue dress. I choose this book because I knew that it was written by one of my people and expect to see a Haitian struggle between two cultures. Both what I discover was nothing else than a degrading image of my culture that really shock me and that will help the stereotype of Haitian in US society. I¿m not trying to refuse to acknowledge the fact that in my culture, women do in general have a subordinate position. But the conditions of women have changed a lot. In 1990, we had our first female president. We have many senators and deputies that are female. We have a ministry for women¿s conditions. The Catholic Church has helped a lot to balance parity between men and women. This thing of testing is not fundamental to the entire Haitian society but for some localities
Guest More than 1 year ago
Danticat writes about young Sophie¿s childhood and development in Haiti. Reading the story of her growth and development gives the reader a view of life and you hopefully begin to appreciate where you are in life. In addition, through Sophie¿s encounters with others, the audience finds out about other cultures in the world. It¿s quite a page-turner and a marvelous beach read because it fits in your beach bag extremely easy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a 13 year young girl and in my Language Arts class we had to read a book and write an esay. I had the book lying around the house and when I picked it up it looked really interesting. Right now I'm in the thrid section and let me tell u it's kinda hard to put the book down!!!! I highly recomend it to anyone because it's a little of everything, louve for your family, romance, Haitian people, New York, mothers and their children. I know sounds interesting huh?