Bottom line: Read this, immediately.
Why are you still here? You need more convincing? Fine, I’ll see what I can do.
I didn’t think I liked Toni Morrison. I read Beloved back in high school, and it was just too much. I wasn’t mature enough to fully absorb it and take it in, so I rejected it. Ever since, I’ve felt like I missed out. Now, a bit older (hopefully a bit wiser) I have a better grasp of history, of institutionalized oppression. I wanted to give Morrison another try.
I listened to this on audio. I didn’t think I liked audiobooks until 2 minutes into listening to Toni Morrison read to me the words of a young slave girl, Florens:
Don’t be afraid. My telling can’t hurt you. In spite of what I have done and I promise to lie quietly in the dark weeping perhaps, or, occasionally seeing the blood once more. But I will never again unfold my limbs to rise up and bare teeth. I explain.
And then Florens explains what has brought her to this point. Of course, her story is so much bigger than just a girl scorned by her first love. It’s about a country being forged by the slave labor of kidnapped people. It’s about loneliness, love, and betrayal. It’s about figuring out your identity when the world around you keeps changing.
A Mercy is set two hundred years before Beloved, but it is, in a sense, the earlier novel’s historic precursor. Florens (or one of the other characters) could easily be Sethe’s ancestor, in spirit if not in blood. Both books deal with the mother-child relationship and the impact slavery had on it. However, A Mercy is much more than a rehashing of Beloved. It stands on its own as a powerful tale by a master author.
Seriously. Go read it.
And why not buy it from an independent book store? Shop Indie Bookstores (affiliate link)