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I did not write this book, I am mearly sharing it for educational purposes only. The novel by Toni Morrison. Identifier BluestEyeTheToniMorrison. Identifier-ark ark://tk. Ocr ABBYY FineReader Ppi The Bluest Eye (Vintage International series) by Toni Morrison. Read online, or download in secure EPUB format.

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Read "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first purchase. Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl. Editorial Reviews. Review. Oprah Book Club® Selection, April Originally The Bluest Eye (Vintage International) - Kindle edition by Toni Morrison. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, Kindle Store · Kindle eBooks · Literature & Fiction. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison Buy the Audiobook Download.

Not in United States? Choose your country's store to see books available for purchase. Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife.

Taut and understated, harsh in its detachment, sympathetic in its truth. Read An Excerpt. Literary Fiction Category: Literary Fiction Audiobooks Category: Literary Fiction Audiobooks. Paperback —. Buy the Audiobook Download: Apple Audible downpour eMusic audiobooks.

Add to Cart Add to Cart. Also in Vintage International. Also by Toni Morrison. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Related Links Bluest Eye Feature. Related Articles. Looking for More Great Reads? Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. Download Hi Res. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first. Pass it on! Stay in Touch Sign up. We are experiencing technical difficulties. My book had an afterword by Morrison which I'm so glad I read.

I had no idea that this book was inspired by a conversation she'd had with an elementary school friend who prayed for blue eyes.

It's conversations like this that never leave you, it seems, but it might take you until you are an adult to understand the true meaning of what those words held and what they say about our society. Like Malcolm X asked, "Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who told her? Who made her feel that it was better to be a freak than what she was?

Who had looked at her and found her so wanting, so small a weight on the beauty scale? I focused, therefore, on how something as grotesque as the demonization of an entire race could take root inside the most delicate member of society: View all 36 comments. Jun 21, Thu rated it it was amazing Shelves: When we finished this book, about half the class including me were infuriated at Morrison for humanizing certain characters that caused Pecola to suffer the most.

Is she telling us they weren't to blame and we should feel sorry for them?! I know now that the answers to those two questions were no and no. What Morrison wanted us t When we finished this book, about half the class including me were infuriated at Morrison for humanizing certain characters that caused Pecola to suffer the most.

What Morrison wanted us to do was not pardon the terrible acts of her characters, or brush them off as "simply tragedy" but to understand where these characters came from psychologically, and what made them the the way they are. People are driven by motivations, sometimes selfless, sometimes self-serving, and sometimes cruel. When I think about this now, I'm absolutely floored.

I don't think any work of fiction has ever taught me this huge a lesson about human nature than this one. Morrison is a brilliant writer and this will probably always be one of my favorite novels.

Bluest Eye, The Toni Morrison : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

View 1 comment. She had explained to him the difference between colored people and niggers. They were easily identifiable. Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud The line between colored and nigger was not always clear; subtle and telltale signs threatened to erode it, and the watch had to be constant. While I was not the biggest fan of Morrison's style in this novel, I did fully appreciate the dagger-sharp insight that she brought t While I was not the biggest fan of Morrison's style in this novel, I did fully appreciate the dagger-sharp insight that she brought to the color caste system that is so prevalent in African-American culture, even today.

Her dialogue rang so true, I could hear it coming directly out of my mother's mouth, my grandmother's mouth, and those of all of the women who've ever filled our kitchens with raucous communal fun and glum communal tragedy alike.

Shirley Temple, Mary Jane candies, and Jean Harlow hairstyles - you'll find the delicacy of all of them here, both in these characters' reality and in metaphor. While the truth and injustices here were often sobering to read, they were filled with too much truth to rightfully deny or turn away from. I could spend hours discussing this novel. I could quote from it all day, but I won't do that, because the entire read was poignant and so crisply aware of the color line - the how and the why - that there is no one point that can overshadow another in the message that these words aimed to send.

This novel is older than I am, and yet it still rings with such verity, with such biting truth and reality. With The Bluest Eye , Toni Morrison cut open the existence of both internalized and externalized racism in America and laid it bare and exposed at our feet. For that, she deserves nothing but reverence and applause, so she will always have that from me. Anyone who's ever been in doubt of a color line in Black America should read this book. Anyone who's ever questioned, "But why can't I say those words when you say them all the time?

But why do you still believe that racism exists? Why can't you just get over it - the past is the past? In fact, just read this book anyway - how about that? View all 9 comments. It takes a lot to put me off. I read Lolita without any complaints about the paedophilia because sometimes it is necessary to show despicable things in order to create art. However, sometimes the brutality can be a little too much.

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This book contains an explicit child rape scene and vivid animal cruelty. Granted, you could make the same argument to defend The Bluest Eye as I did for the texts I mentioned above though, for me, it was just too awful to read. The scenes held absolutely nothing back.

I am not a person easily shocked or put off by such things, though it was too much even for me. The Republic of Wine is the only other book to make me feel this unnerved because of baby cannibalism. It made me want to vomit as the writing here did. The Bluest Eye was way too much for me. It was overly symbolic, melodramatically brutal and displayed no hope or optimism. I did not enjoy a single page.

View all 12 comments. Aug 30, Brian rated it really liked it Recommended to Brian by: Bill Holtzclaw. I saw this tweet a couple of weeks ago: An almost infinite amount, apparently. Toni Morrison wants those of us born with that winning life-lotto combo ticket to experience the opposite of that life track in a world that encompasses, in her words, "the far more tragic and disabling conseque I saw this tweet a couple of weeks ago: Toni Morrison wants those of us born with that winning life-lotto combo ticket to experience the opposite of that life track in a world that encompasses, in her words, "the far more tragic and disabling consequences of accepting rejection as legitimate, as self-evident.

The ego doesn't ever have a chance. The Bluest Eye provides a window into this world - a viewpoint so that a Reader can see it for all of its ugliness and marvel at those, like Morrison, that overcome this environment and become a thing of beauty. If you are white male upper-middle class American - a state senator from Alabama with power and a national audience, why would you want to call for the banning of this book, one you have certainly never read?

It's fear. This work that Morrison has created: It speaks truth, it kills the demons by just naming them and it reminds the Reader that for some the miracle of living can be a living nightmare. Holtzclaw wants a world where we won't be told of these realities. I don't want to live in that world. View all 28 comments. Morrison, a single mother of two sons, wrote the novel while she taught at Howard University. The novel is set in and centers around the life of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grows up during the years following the Great Depression in Lorain, Ohio.

Due to Pecola's harsh characteristics and dark skin, she is consistently regarded as "ugly". As a result, she develops an inferiority c As a result, she develops an inferiority complex, which fuels her desire for the blue eyes she equates with "whiteness".

The point of view of the novel switches between the perspective of Claudia MacTeer, the daughter of Pecola's foster parents, and a third-person narrator with inset narratives in the first person. Due to controversial topics in the book including racism, incest, and child molestation, there have been numerous attempts to ban it from schools and libraries. View 2 comments. Aug 23, Fabian rated it it was amazing. I wonder who the Mexican Toni Morrison is.

Her work is very hard to peg down. It remains a wondrous feat to analyze or define. A definitive stylist, a poet, Morrison is brilliant. There is one scene deeply ingrained somewhere in the schism that is this beautiful book which will stay with me forever. This is not just a tale of whites vers I wonder who the Mexican Toni Morrison is.

This is not just a tale of whites versus blacks. Aug 08, Connie Kuntz rated it it was amazing Recommended to Connie by: Sylvia Hoke. That's her name. Her name bothered me the first time I read it.

How do you even pronounce it. Slowly, but surely, I understood that was the point. Pecola herself would never be pretty, would never be understood. No one would ever be able to shorten or lengthen her name into a cute nick. Her hair, her eyes, her countenance, her life, would never be considered more than an in Pecola.

Her hair, her eyes, her countenance, her life, would never be considered more than an insult, not only to herself, but to her people, too. Pecola, trapped in poverty, was mercilessly teased by her peers, raped and impregnated by her father and judged by her elders. Eventually, Pecola went crazy and was last seen digging through the garbage by her old childhood "friend", one of the narrators of the novel.

The narrators acknowledge the superior tone of The Observer, a concept I had never considered. Or, maybe just less caring. That's it. Pecola herself, never experiences self-superiority, which I believe is the first time I have ever noticed such a phenomena.

Most characters, especially underdog protagonists, experience some sort of self-superiority however deluded at some point in their "character arc. Instead, she is motivated by achieving superiority by getting blue eyes. That is interesting to me. All of The Bluest Eye is interesting to me. The cruelty and evil that lurk inside the realm of survival and desire is explored beautifully and almost unbearably.

Pecola's desire for having the bluest eyes in the world reminded me of some of my absurd goals and I am once again reminded to reassess my values. That's not a bad thing to do once in awhile or, in my case, on a regular basis. May 29, Sabra rated it really liked it Shelves: I just read this today, and the rating system really doesn't apply to my feelings, which are still fresh, on this book: I have NO idea how to rate this book. I didn't like the book. As the author herself states in the afterward, " Though som I just read this today, and the rating system really doesn't apply to my feelings, which are still fresh, on this book: Though some of the varying voices that tell their stories don't flow as well in telling their story, the character development is really amazing.

The point of view through innocence in the girls makes the horrors and injustices all the more This book evoked strong emotions in me, which, according to the author, was the point. She did that job well. I feel a strong sense of loss, disgust, revoltion, sadness, and frustration at not knowing how to "fix" things.

So how do you rate that? View all 5 comments.

The Bluest Eye

After all, we are talking a physicality that differs in very few respects from the type idealized by the Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party, and in the land of the whites and the home of the bleach, that phenotype means power. Just last week, one of my professors commented on 4. Just last week, one of my professors commented on her constant well-dressed appearance with "I can't wash this off," scrubbing at her hand as synecdoche for how her African heritage had chosen to display itself.

Sixty years ago that choice in clothing was just as politically charged, for to dress well and not be white was an open invitation to getting the living shit beaten out of you.

As you can see, the white supremacy is a canny thing, always knowing how to change its skin. Four to five hundred years or so ago, the science of race was invented to excuse the existence of slavery in the face of religious humanity and social equality.

Since then, the country of the United States was invented, taught to children as a "cultural melting pot" that flenses them from schoolyard to mass media and back again. It is an easy process: Jazz, Hinduism, bindis, yoga, rap, sushi, greeted with raging disgust and vitriolic hatred unless, of course, you're white.

Then by all means, consume away. There's no danger in your representation. Only oppression. It would be allegory if the entire machinery of the US Government didn't single out the chosen sacrifices based on the color of skin and the inheritance of creed, but it does. It would have aged badly if cultural appropriation wasn't an imperialistic practice that takes the existence of others as the latest "fad" for a blonde-haired and blue-eyed persona, but it is.

I'm talking dark-skinned girls bleaching their skin, I'm talking the violation of civilizations for the pursuit of a hobby, I'm talking a disconnect between an entire host of souls from their bodies that makes the incest in this book ugly and a white man raping his three-year-old daughter legally acceptable in the US as of Toni Morrison wrote this book while people were killing themselves to keep themselves aligned with "respectability politics" of white fashion; today, every white person wants dreadlocks.

Shit on something long enough and it's yours for the commercial taking, so long, of course, you look a certain way. If you dehumanize someone because they don't look like blonde-haired blue-eyed white-skinned skinny-assed me, you are utter, fucking, goddamn trash. It's as simple as that. View all 10 comments. Imagine a Nobel Laureate reading her work, and then explaining her art.

I listened to this via Audible and I was spellbound. Inflections with each character switch and mood, exquisite dialogue performance—I might as well have been in the same room with her. The bluest eye. Oh what great use of personification. This story, laden with historical and literary context, is narrated by young Claudia and follows three black girls: Claudia, Frieda, and Pecola. She must call her mom, Mrs. Breedlove, while the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl her mother takes care of, calls her Polly.

When Pecola sees the same mother who beats and yells at her oohing and aahing at the little girl, the blue eyes become her way of wanting to be acknowledged. Maybe if she had blue eyes… Later, the bluest eye will play a role after Pecola goes through a horrific ordeal and we get to hear from her directly. In her world, no one notices or acknowledges her: Shopping for her family is a pain. Toni Morrison started this story in —working on it while getting her MA.

In , it started to take the shape of a book. In elementary school, she had a friend who told her that she wished she had blue eyes. Very blue eyes in a very dark skin? While reading two of her works simultaneously this week, I also read Paradise I noticed her signature style.

The lyrical syntax is prolific, the narrator voice oblique, and the story structure will take leaps and bounds.

The second half of this book was my favorite. In the beginning, there is a certain voice that pierces the narrative throughout and I wondered what it was the white house and Jane playing. Towards the end, I understood the art as I heard from Pecola in a weird, artistic kind of way and it was a deeply emotional moment. I feel so bad for not liking this book, because I know I'm in the minority, and because I know it deals with some very very important topics!

I think it's important that books like these exist, because we need to remember that problems like these exist. That being said, I strongly disliked the execution of this story.

I almost couldn't breathe when reading this because it kept telling about disaster after disaster. I needed a little glimpse of hope somewhere, but I didn't get it. This book is said to be very poetic, and I agree with that. However, once again I felt like it was done in an exaggerated manner. Almost every second sentence had a deeper meaning, and while it was beautiful to read in the beginning, it became too much in the end.

Furthermore, Toni Morrison chose to mix together genres and perspectives, and I didn't feel a connection with any of the characters despite what they were going through. I love beautiful prose and stories with serious topics, but I didn't like this one one bit. I had a very hard time getting through the mere pages of "The Bluest Eye".

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The two stars are given because of the glimpses of beautiful prose and the ever-important topics that this book deals with, but all in all I can't say that this was a great reading experience. Jul 31, Thomas rated it really liked it Shelves: Toni Morrison captures this dynamic of internalized racial self-loathing so well.

With vivid prose, she interrogates how glorifying white skin and blue eyes harms black girls and turns them 4. With vivid prose, she interrogates how glorifying white skin and blue eyes harms black girls and turns them against one another. Through developing the main characters of this book, the Breedlove family, in a rich and detailed way, Morrison also investigates the repercussions of intergenerational trauma, rape and incest, and more.

My heart hurt so much for these characters even as my mind admired Morrison's skill as a writer. She holds nothing back in her books, and neither should we as we fight to diversify our media and show how all bodies deserve love and respect, not just white ones, thin ones, etc. Highly recommended to Morrison fans and to those who care about societal beauty ideals, race and the family, and the social transmission of trauma and abuse.

Here is the little black girl.

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She has dreams and a fertile imagination. She is a potential conduit for excellence in the world. But she is the inheritor of pathological trauma that is centuries old. She is born to parents who are too busy licking their wounds and tending to their own pain to extend anything resembling love in her direction. So she believes she is unlovable, and is subsequently rendered invisible and therefore a perfect target to absorb the abuses of a society of self-hating, op Here is the little black girl.

So she believes she is unlovable, and is subsequently rendered invisible and therefore a perfect target to absorb the abuses of a society of self-hating, oppressed people who need to pour their sorrows into the vessel with the most cracks: Never realizing that people who don't love themselves can never love anybody else.

So her cracks multiply and she breaks apart and spills over and she gets blamed for not being pristine by the very people who broke her. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. We are wrong, of course, but it doesn't matter. It's too late. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

A painful, uncomfortable, provocative, depressing story that is nevertheless more honest and real than most of the books I've read this year. In a foreword written two decades after first publication, the author expresses some misgivings about the structure of the novel and about how Pecola, the main character, may be lacking in relevance for larger issues of racial identity, her story too particular to lend itself well to generalities.

For me, like in the case of Carson McCullers, these flaws in execution may be the very things that convinced me of the sincerity of the feelings described, and the idiom flavored prose more expressive and authentic than later, more polished books I'm thinking of Home , the only Morrison book I've read before this one.

The main theme, that of self-esteem, identity and prejudice, is as relevant today as it was in when the action is placed or in when the book was first published. Only last week I've read in the news about a shameful Fox News debacle on the colour of Father Christmas and of Jesus skin.

Why can't we have a black Santa? Why would it be considered ugly? The standards of beauty imposed by fashion magazines and MTV shows may be more inclusive today in terms of skin colour, but they remain as radical and as dangerous for children and teenagers who are not tall, skinny, 'blue eyed'.

Don't even start me on Miley Cyrus as a role model Back to Pecola Breedlove: The whole world is telling her she is ugly, worthless, pityful, and Pecola is not strong enough to contradict it and to fight for herself.

It is the artist role to be her advocate, to feel her pain, her despair, and to shout it out for all to hear: They are invisible. The death of self-esteem can occur quickly, easily in children, before their ego has 'legs', so to speak. Couple the vulnerability of youth with indifferent parents, dismissive adults, and a world, which, in its language, laws, and images, re-enforces despair, and the journey to destruction is sealed.

The story of Pecola reads more like a parable than a reportage, with the outcome made clear right from the start, extensive use of metaphoric language and a fatalistic inevitability that harks back to the Greek tragedies.

Most of the novel is told through the eyes of Frieda and Claudia, two black girls growing up in Larain, Ohio in , witnessing the drama unfolding in the Breedlove family, fighting spirits both but yet too young to be able to do anything about their friend.

They plant some flower seeds in the barren earth of their neighborhood marigolds as a symbol for love and understanding? Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair. What is clear now is that of all that hope, fear, lust, love, and grief, nothing remains but Pecola and the unyielding earth. Cholly Breedlove is dead; our innocence too. The seeds shriveled and died; her baby too. There is really nothing more to say - except why.

But since 'why' is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in 'how'. The following account is non-linear, broken in pieces, jumping back and forth in the timeline and moving around to other locations, passed through from one character to another in an almost haphazard manner, yet coming round by the finish line to Pecole and the marigolds refusing to bloom.

Many factors contribute to the little girl's downfall, yet the lion's share of blame should probably be placed firmly at her parents door: Pauline and Cholly Breedlove have a disfunctional relationship that hurts their children more than their own calloused and already defeated souls.

Polly takes refuge in the fantasy world of cinema and believes her children should conform to the burgeois standards of the white class: Into her son she beat a loud desire to run away, and into her daughter she beat a fear of growing up, fear of other people, fear of life.

Cholly is a drunkard who keeps everything inside, unable to express himself other than though violence, regularly beating his wife and terorizing the children.

He pities his daughter, but the way he chooses to manifest his emotion is more than horrible. Another abuser is a certain Whitcomb, an Anglophile mullato con man and a pervert who poses as a priest and a dream interpreter.

Pecola finds more understanding and kindness in the rooms of destitute whores living in the apartment above than in her own family. What is interesting about all the adults in the story is that behind all their despicable actions, they are not actually corrupted in their own eyes. Pauline was at one time happy in her house chores and even in her passion for Cholly. Cholly was once a free spirit, a fighter and a tender husband.

Whitcomb believes he is doing a service to the community, even to the underage girls he fondles. They all find some way to rationalize their failures. The autor goes to great lengths to show their human frailty instead of condemning them outright, leaving the task of moral judgement on the shoulders of the reader: Have I looked down instinctively on someone on account of their race Romanian Gypsies are quite horribly treated today both in Romania and in Europe?

Have I judged people hastily, without trying to walk some miles in their shoes? Will I do it again, after reading this book?

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But I hope some kernel of truth will remain, and who knows, maybe some marigolds will bloom in my own garden. My final quote is I believe an illustration of the fact that we do not need to be perfect, we need only to make an effort and to keep learning about the world and the people around us, no matter how old we are in years: Love is never better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe.

There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover's inward eye.

Let us love wisely, for once! Thank you, Mrs.

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Morrison for the remainder. View all 8 comments. Each sentence bled into the next, urging the reader to press on amidst a heartbreaking, convicting story of rejection, self-loathing, and ultimately, complete violation. It's not easy, or particularly enjoyable, to read. But Morrison cracks open this sort of taboo topic, choosing to highlight a character whose story often goes untold: But Pecola, our main character, doesn't even get 3.

But Pecola, our main character, doesn't even get to tell her own story. The novel breaks down into seasons, starting with Autumn, and is narrated by a neighbor girl and her sister.

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As the story progresses, we get backstories on major characters: Pecola's mother, father, and various people in their hometown of Lorain, Ohio. While I loved the prose--there's no denying Morrison's skill with words, especially as this is her first novel--I found myself having trouble fully engaging in the story. As Pecola's story unfolds, we realize that she is helpless to deal with the pain she is going through, and she internalizes it. She isn't even helped by the people in her life who should be able to help her, because they have their own pain to deal with.

This isolation Pecola feels kept me at a distance from her, combined with the fact that we don't get to hear from Pecola herself at all. And by the end I was a bit let down. During the afterword of the novel, written by Morrison herself, she says regarding the structure, "My solution--break the narrative into parts that had to be reassembled by the reader--semed to me a good idea, the execution of which does not satisfy me now. Besides, it didn't work: That isn't to say that this book isn't worth reading, or that it doesn't achieve anything that it sets out to achieve.

Instead, I felt so detached and confused by the structuring of the story, that I missed out on the emotion that was being expressed. It's an excellent novel, nonetheless, but it's also a first one; I anticipate in reading more of Morrison, I will grow to understand her writing, as I often do in reading more from the works of an author.

And I would argue, as many people recommended to me, it's a good place to start with Morrison. Emma I just finished my first Morrison book and I think this review does a great job of summarizing my thoughts. Although the writing was beautiful, I foun I just finished my first Morrison book and I think this review does a great job of summarizing my thoughts. Although the writing was beautiful, I found it very hard to be engaged with the characters because of the disjointed storytelling.

However I really liked the message and will definitely read more of her works in the future. Kimberly Patton Great review. I finished the book unsure how to reconcile the beautiful language but confusing structure. Thanks for giving words to my thoughts! Mar 29, Oct 11, Rebbie rated it it was amazing Shelves: Toni Morrison has a Pulitzer and a Nobel, and she deserves them both. Precious few people can write like she does. Dare I say it, but only a few times in a generation are we lucky enough to have a writer who was born to put pen to paper.

I call her a writer and not a novelist or an author because that would be disrespectful to her talent. Unfortunately, there are those who have read this book and act as if Toni Morrison is blaming the entire Caucasian community for the plight of one young African-American girl, and nothing could be further from the truth.

How unfair to abused children, regardless of their skin color.

No excuse at all. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us. All of us—all who knew her—felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her.

We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used—to silence our own nightmares.

And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength. It is intense and you will probably cry. Most people do. I read this book several years ago, and it is so well-written that I find myself remembering vivid details about it all these years later.

What a tragic yet poetic story this is, and one that will hopefully capture your heart like it did mine. Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes. Fervently, for a year she had prayed. Although somewhat discouraged, she was not without hope. To have something as wonderful as that happen would take a long, long time. I had an English teacher who used to tell us to read Russian authors if we wanted to actually appreciate literature, but from my experience, it is Women of Colour whose books have made me appreciate literature more.

Perhaps it is because they write with so much heart. Perhaps Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes. Perhaps it is because they write about real world issues. I don't know why it is so, but what I do know is that after I read something by any of them, I feel an overwhelming need to hug someone and cry my eyes out; sometimes out of happiness, sometimes out of sadness, other times, because I just have to. You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source.

Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question. When I was about twelve years old, I got it into my mind that I was ugly. Now, the reasons for this were of course, very superficial, but I was, after all twelve. And I had been conditioned to believe that some features were considered pretty and some weren't.

And the literature said that ideally, my features were not supposed to be pretty. I have never been thin, puberty is the worst time for anyone to learn that. From then, for the next three years, I was obsessed with being thin. Now, I didn't start on a diet or anything, but every time I looked in the mirror, I hated myself. I'm also dark; my skin colour is something I'm very proud of now, but back then, I wanted to be fair.

All the advertisements, movies, series I've always had long hair, but this being the 's fancy short hair cuts were in vogue.

And no matter how much I begged my mother, she never let me cut my hair. You see, like most mothers, she saw the beauty in it. But I hated it. I hated not being able to leave my hair open when I went to the mall, I hated that my mother used to oil and braid my hair everyday, I hated that I couldn't style it the way I wanted to.

My teeth never fell out on time, so my permanent set is extremely crooked. I hated smiling for photos because I hated my teeth. I also wore thick glasses, because I am extremely short-sighted. All in all, I hated how I looked. I envied the fair girls with short hair and straight, even teeth.

I was jealous of those girls who wore the-then trendy rimless glasses. Because conditioning. I think children, especially girls, in general are conditioned from childhood, by various sources that they're supposed to look a certain way.

Not looking in that certain way, in many cases, can lead to a serious case of self-loathing. By the time I was fourteen, many of friends had had boyfriends. And again, I hated myself. Because I assumed I was too ugly for any boy to like me. But somehow, I don't really know when, I started finding beauty in the flaws. It was perhaps when someone told me that my skin was very clear it isn't anymore, but it was, back then.

Or perhaps when someone else told me my hair was thick and long and black and looked beautiful. Of course, my then self-esteem didn't let me completely believe them, but I was secretly happy about this. When I was seventeen, I fell in love with someone. Not the teenage-seventeen infatuation, but truly in love. And as luck would have it, this person fell for me as well.

I don't really know what he thought about my looks, because at seventeen, you don't discuss that. I did know that he thought I was smart and kind and intelligent. Of course, I was seventeen, so while I didn't believe my mother when she told me this, I believed this boy.

Suddenly, I loved myself again. Funny that someone else needed to see good in me to do this, but I did. When I turned eighteen, I went away to college. College was on the other end of the country. And one day, I had a fight with this guy, and we've never spoken since. And yet again, my self esteem hit a new low. And while that fight remains the biggest regret of my life, that's not the point of this story. At this very low point in my life, I met two girls in college; I had a minor falling out with one though we still remain acquaintances, and the other went on to become my best friend.

These two girls had everything to do with making me love myself again. They took me to the fanciest parlour in the city, and I was glad they were finally helping me chop my hair off, but they didn't do that. Instead, they made me get a cut that flattered my face, while the length of my hair remained the same. I was perplexed, but like my mother, these girls found beauty in my hair as well.

And perhaps this is another form of conditioning, but that haircut changed my life. I suddenly saw myself as beautiful.

I learned that being dark or fair didn't matter. I began taking pride in my long hair. Most importantly, I learned that smiling wasn't about showing perfect teeth, it was about showing joy.