Book Review: Toni Morrison's Paradise

10:37 am

'They shoot the white girl first' is the opening line to Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison's 1997 novel Paradise. Quite the hook to new readers, isn't it? The book starts with a massacre outside of the town of Ruby where a Convent resides, containing many women deemed by the town as unacceptable and slovenly. They are accused of witchcraft, performing abortions, and satanic rituals. The remainder of the novel slips back in time, telling stories of these women individually about their lives before coming to Ruby, and how they ended up there. Paradise is an odd name for a book with such a horrifying opening, but one that begins to make sense as the novel progresses as you come to learn the purpose of Ruby (a black-only town created by former slaves in order to stay separate from the white population). The characters in this novel are where it thrives in my opinion, creating believable and troubled young women, as well as the male residents of Ruby, who have vastly different but  not over the top back-stories. Connie, Mavis, Gigi, Seneca and Pallas are women you will feel love towards despite their troubles, and their conflicts with one another are ones you can believe. After finishing Paradise I was blown away by the realism and horror of the world Morrison created and I had become so absorbed in. It's a tale of love and race that makes me eager to pick up even more of her works. 

Rating: ****/5

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