Dominic's Reviews > Breath, Eyes, Memory

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
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Jan 30, 11

bookshelves: modern-literature
Read from January 17 to 20, 2010

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 fragmentary. The plot drives on when I wanted it to linger. Yet by the final third of the novel, I appreciated her sparse, crisp style. This is not a book heavy on style; much of it is dialog, for instance. Instead this novel is a celebration of storytelling and the bonds--both fractured and sound--between mothers and daughters. Breath, Eyes, Memory delves into issues of regret and anger and forgiveness and letting go the ghosts of our pasts and healing from hurt. And her characters are so brilliantly drawn, the message so profound. Stick with it to the end, and you'll be rewarded.

I couldn't help but think of other great novels while reading this one: Kingston's The Woman Warrior, Hosseini's The Kite Runner, and Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter. Breath, Eyes, Memory certainly belongs in this esteemed group of novels. I also highly recommend her second work, Krik? Krak!.
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