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Breath, Eyes, Memory

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  18,463 ratings  ·  836 reviews
"I love you", the stranger announces. "More than the sky loves its stars". And her mother does, but there are memories from Haiti secreted away that torture both young Sophie and her estranged insomniac mother. This award-winning 24-year-old Haitian American's evocative novel explores the bonds joining four generations of women.
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Soho Press (first published 1994)
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Rowena
“The tale is not a tale unless I tell. Let the words bring wings to our feet.” - Edwidge Danticat, “Breath, Eyes, Memory.”

My first read for Black History Month, “Breath, Eyes, Memory” is Edwidge Danticat’s first novel and I loved it. This writer introduced me to Haitian literature over a decade ago and I feel strong feelings of kinship with her.

This was a beautiful and moving story about a young Haitian girl named Sophia, whose mother leaves her with an aunt in Haiti as a baby and moves to New
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Dominic
This is a quiet but beautiful book. While it may not shimmer with literary acrobatics, its prose is clear as water, and the narrative structure literally tugs the reader through it. Had I the time, I could have read this in one sitting. It's that effortless. And yes, Danticat was only 24 when she wrote it!

At times I wanted Danticat to take me deeper into the complex lives of this multi-generational circle of women and the unspoken pasts that haunt them. Many of the 35 chapters are brief and/or f
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Sammy
*sigh* Okay, what did I think of the book, what did I think? Well, by my grade I'm sure you can tell I wasn't too fond of the book and didn't like it all that much. I wish I could leave it at that, but I'm a person who's solidly against criticisms without any sort of reason to back it up with. So... let's explain why I didn't really like it...

First of all, the story itself really didn't interest me at all. Sure there were moments that I couldn't put it down, but most of the time I was bored by i
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Christa
“She told me about a group of people in Guinea who carry the sky on their heads. They are the people of Creation. Strong, tall, and mighty people who can bear anything. Their Maker, she said, gives them the sky to carry because they are strong. These people do not know who they are, but if you see a lot of trouble in your life, it is because you were chosen to carry part of the sky on your head.”

“Tante Atie once said that love is like rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pourin
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Laureen
Breath,Eyes,Memory by Edwidge Danticat was recommend to me by Nicole. This book, I don't know where to beginning. As I started reading the book I thought it would turn out to be like any other books but it didn't. This book is about the relationship between a mother and a daughter who had not seen each other for a long period of time. This book relates to me in so many ways. When Manman sees her daughter for the very first time she took her as like she was a fragile glass. As for Sophie, she did ...more
Juanita Rice
I couldn't identify with the characters at all. I did not understand why Sophie hated sex with her husband; I didn't understand that what was referred to as "testing" her virginity was experienced as, or intended as, or interpreted as sexual abuse which caused her horror of sexuality. I didn't know until more than halfway through the book that she supposedly was bulimic. I didn't even really understand the overall family dynamics. I hardly understood anything about Tante Atie when Sophie goes ba ...more
Babydoll
Breath, Eyes, Memory is an engaging story of Sophie Caco, who was abruptly summoned from her hometown of Haiti to the United States by her estranged mother. Author Edwidge Danticat introduces readers to the Caco women, who embodied strength and resiliency, but who also harbored a dark past. Set in Haiti as well as within the Haitian community in New York, this novel also addresses controversial cultural practices, and how they impact the lives of women.
This was such a great book, that I was u
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Diane Brown
I loved reading this book. I have appreciation for Danticat's simplicity of words to tell a story, while dealing with political and social issues.
The story of Sophia from Haiti who after having stayed with her aunt for the first part of her life moves to New York to live with her mother.
This book deals with the concept of 'home' and relationships between women in a family. It deals too with the obsession with keeping women "pure" sexually and the consequences of this obsession on personal value
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Casey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
O
I finished this book last night and let myself think on it over night before posting a review. First things first, I found this book to be brilliant.

I honestly don't know that much about Haiti as a country or a culture. I of course know about the earthquake that struck the country in 2010. It was all over the U.S. press and friends of mine had fundraisers and donations drives. I also had friends in the State department who chose to volunteer to go to Haiti to do what they could. One of my friend
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Yariella
i was super let down by this book. i was expecting a fabulous, lyrical story and i was just happy i made it to the last page. perhaps i should be less trusting of ms. oprah's little book club...?
Rowland Bismark
The Male World's Debilitating Obsession with Female Purity

The dominant culture's problematic obsession with female purity is best witnessed by the pair of Martine and Atie. Growing up, the sisters' purity was carefully guarded by the humiliating practice of testing. Yet Martine was raped at age sixteen, while Atie, betrayed by her fiancÃ, never married. Neither achieved the womanhood for which she was groomed, suggesting at first that this is the source of their unhappiness. But the ultimate for
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Jennifer
Breath, Eyes, Memory is the story of the suffering of three women bound by family ties. It was strongly emotional with some heavy themes. The repercussions of rape, the cultural value of virginity and how mothers routinely sexually abuse their daughters in order to preserve their honor were all covered in great detail. The descriptions of Haitian culture both in Haiti and in the United States were fascinating.

The book flowed well and held my interest much more than I expected. The ending was fil
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Shannon
I was excited to finally get around to reading this book. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped I would. Danticat's writing style seemed very abrupt and that made it hard to get into a good "flow" with the book. I found that I didn't really connect with any of the characters as they weren't fully developed. By the end of the book, I was just glad that it was over. I didn't feel that any of the storylines were developed as much as they should have been and this was extremely an ...more
Carolyn
Not the best editing job, but a good read nonetheless. Compared to the "Dew Breaker" (which seemed more like a collection of short stories, loosely connected as an afterthought) "Breath, Eyes, Memory" is much more interesting. I hate to side with Oprah, in fact I've had to reconsider the validity of the novel twice because of the prominent Oprah book club sticker, but yeah Oprah's right, it's a decent read. I wish I could give it a 3.5, but the book made me cry a little, mutilation will do that, ...more
Prachi Singh
I started reading this book four and a half hours ago, and I finished it in one sitting, with only one break to get some more tea. Danticat so successfully sketched out her characters that it felt like 12 year old Sophie was grabbing my hand and pulling me along with her.

The language of this book isn't particularly ornate - no need to bust out a dictionary here - but the author still manage to make Haiti seem so very real. In fact, the clarity of the language lent the story a fable-like quality
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Michelle
Beautifully written

This had me sobbing in the end...at work. Uncontrollable sobbing...! I loved it. Totally identified with the man character and her struggles. *tears*
Rachel
Breath, Eyes, and Memory is an extremely great book of the past. Edwidge Danticat uses flashback to support his theme of the past. The book leads the readers to many possibilities throughout the book. It leaves you thinking one thing, and then the exact opposite happens. Danticat is very good at tugging the reader through. It is a highly effortless read. The characters battle with their haunting past as they try to reveal their future.

The story takes you through a roller-coaster of emotions. All
...more
Shelby Webster

Someone died? Thank goodness something kept it interesting because I hate reading. I hate reading, because while reading, I can think of SO MANY other things I would rather be doing. I have never enjoyed picking up a book just to read it for fun. Is reading suppose to be “fun”? It sure seems funny to me that people read for entertainment. Being assigned to read a book within 3 weeks for my english class seemed like a nightmare and literally impossible. I told myself, sparknotes were created just
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Sue
Jul 17, 2013 Sue marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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, suffer ...more
Jesse
All the things that are never said, never expressed continue to haunt me after several months: Danticat elegantly utilizes silence and ellipses in a way that I'm quite accustomed to in cinema, but rarely find in literature. This means that at first the story seems thin, almost emaciated—but suddenly the absence reveal itself not as lack but meticulous authorial control, and peeking between the spare sentences are glimpses of vast expanses of the utterly inexpressible. The novel is constructed in ...more
Molly
I read this book to learn more about Haiti and by extension, our sister library in Haiti. One frightening theme of the book is the violent and heart-breaking sexism that many Haitian women struggle against. The book celebrates the closeness of women and their mothers, daughters and aunts while highlighting a disturbing practice wherein women insure the purity of their daughters by checking them with their fingers. Also,they listen to their pee because if they pee to loud they might have too much ...more
Judy
Apr 28, 2010 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
One of the wonders of the United States melting pot is its wide range of writers from other cultures who emigrate to America and write in English. This provides us with a built-in translation program carried out by the immigrants themselves with a lag of approximately one generation.


I decided to read Danticat in tribute to Haiti when the earthquake happened. Breath, Eyes, Memory is her first novel and while it is in part autobiographical, it is stunning. The style is plain and unassuming but mad
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Mary Elizabeth
The eloquence with which Danticat writes is unmatched. She has an impeccable gift for storytelling with words and images alike. She fills the story with symbols and subtleties which allow the reader to grasp the depth of each character. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat traces the journey of a young girl from Haiti to New York City. The central character, Sophie, travels to the U.S. when her mother summons her at the age of twelve. Sophie was raised by her aunt, whom she feels is her true ...more
Val
The book is the story of a Haitian girl / woman called Sophie, plus the stories of other women in her family to a lesser extent.
It is divided into four parts. In part one twelve year old Sophie, who has been living in Haiti with her aunt Atie, travels to meet her mother Martine in the USA and starts living there. It is written in the language of a twelve year old and I thought it was written for that age until a revelation at the end. Part two is set six years later, when the eighteen year old S
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Mrs. Gregory
I read this novel about a decade ago while I was in Haiti. If you are looking for a novel that will help you understand the culture of this country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, during a time when the island nation is in the news, pick it up. I also recommend Graham Greene's The Comedians for a glimpse at what life was like in Haiti during the rule of Duvalier -- Papa Doc. The novel also highlights a time when people still considered Haiti a vacation destination. Greene's story is rife ...more
Kahena Joubert
This is the second book I have read by Danticat and once again I am mesmerized by her writing. “Breath, Eyes, Memory” is a novel filled with passion as young girl tries to find herself and remain connected to her Haitian roots. The book can be seen as a coming of age novel, as Sophie, the main character, is forced to move to the United States after living with her aunt in Haiti for as long as she can remember. In this book, Sophie explores her heritage in order to understand why her mother treat ...more
Jennifer
This one will be on my memorable books list for this year. It is beautifully written. This is a story of Haiti, especially the women of Haiti. It is sweet and tender, and heartbreaking. It asks how a woman can be healed after unthinkable things have happened to her. How she can help passing her pain and sorrow on to her daughters, how she can be free.

Quotes:

There is a difference between what a person wants and what is good for them.

"Do you see that light moving yonder?" she asked, pointing to th
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Christy
Much like Toni Morrison's Beloved, Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory depicts the aftermath of abuse and trauma, the risk of perpetuating such violence, and the possibility for healing.

Danticat, a Haitian American writer, sets her story in Haiti and in New York in the late 20th century, but across this cultural divide Danticat still makes an explicit connection to African American life and literature. The protagonist's mother says at one point, "I feel like I could have been Southern Afric
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Ran
“Life is no vacation. If you get your education, there are things you won’t have to do.”
(said Martine – Sophie’s Mother, page 58)

“Because of you, I feel like a helpless cripple. I sometimes want to kill myself. All because of what you did to me, a child who could not say no, a child who could not defend herself. It would be easy to hate you, but I can’t because you are part of me. You are me.”
(Buki – Sophie’s friend at the group, page 203)

Dear Sophie,

I am writing you this note while sitting on t
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Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; and The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner. She is also the editor of The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States and The Beac ...more
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“Love is like the rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring and if you're not careful it will drown you.” 172 likes
“If a woman is worth remembering,' said my grandmother, 'there is no need to have her name carved in letters.” 26 likes
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