Building Bridges

Building Bridges

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Steven's book review

April 5, 2011
English 103 8:00-10:00
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Book review by Steven Salazar

Not even in my wildest dreams would I think that I could see, smell, or even taste the culture filled country of Haiti. Until Edwidge Danticat took my senses on a trip I won’t soon forget. In the book Breath,Eyes,Memory, Danticat describes what it’s like to grow up as a Haitian female in a poverty stricken country where patriarchy is law. Sophie, a character who the book follows is born from a rape that her mother Martine endured when she was only fifteen. Danticat truly brings to life the struggle of a mother and daughter having to live with past and present demons that they must face in order to feel free from physical/mental anguish.

Breath, Eyes, Memory a fiction novel has violence, adventure, and a hint of romance. I really liked the texture Danticat used in her wording. The beautiful quotes and mythical tales she used seemed to pop right off the page to surround my mind’s eye. In the book Tante Atie, Sophie’s aunt who raised her until she was twelve says, “Love is like rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring and if you’re not careful it will drown you.” The novel is jam packed with very well descriptive words that come together just right.

While reading the novel I began to notice the pattern of how the women’s lives were all affected by men. Martine’s life changed when she was raped and had to carry an unknown man’s baby for 9 months. She tried all the tricks in the book to get rid of the child to no avail. Sophie was born in to the world with a rapist for a father whom she never knew. Later on in the book Sophie meets her husband and only has sex with him because she knows that’s what keeps men satisfied, but she does not enjoy the act all together. The only thing she loved from the first time they had sex was the beautiful baby daughter that followed 9 months later. Then there is Tante Atie, The sister of Martine that watched over Sophie when Martine was away trying to start a better life in New York. She was a bit of a drinker though kind, but at the same time demanded respect. Tante Atie was lonely because of a lost love. Grandme Ife is Sophie’s grandmother, but there was no backround information on her; that’s a whole different book. I won’t tell you how it ends, but let’s just say a male gets the best of Martine. It’s quite sad, but that’s the way of the world.

After reading Breath, Eyes, Memory I did dislike one aspect of the story. Ever since Sophie was a little girl her guardians raised her to be pure and proud just like they pretended to be. The old traditional “test” as it was called in the book was meant to keep young women pure by checking their vagina to see if it had been tampered with in any way. The funny thing is, is that all the women hated it and yet it was done to Tante Atie and Martine, then Martine did it to Sophie. That was a huge trust breaker between Sophie and her mother that seemed to be the root of Sophie’s depression. All the women put up a front that they were strong and pure, but in the end all I saw were lonely, scared individuals that broke, or just didn’t feel like they had the power within themselves to live happy. Only Sophie managed to face her fears, and in doing that she became a strong woman in my eyes.

Over all, the novel is a great eye opener to life outside of the United States. Life is hard no matter which way you slice it. Especially, if you are flung to New York at twelve years old only knowing Haiti; I couldn’t imagine having to start a new in a totally different world. I respect Sophia for dealing with the craziness of her life and drudging through it for the better. She would probably say she is only doing it for her daughter Brigitte, but she is a very smart girl who knows what she needs to do to be happy. For some reason I feel Sophie would have been much happier if she would have stayed in Haiti with Grandme Ife and Tante Atie. Well when you read the book for yourself, you can be the judge of that.

1 comment: