Beloved by Toni Morrison

This was my first book for the Book Awards Challenge and it was simply one of the best books that I've read in a long time. The story revolves around Sethe, a former slave who had escaped to the North, and her family, and the scars (both physical and mental) left over from slavery. This was at times a very uncomfortable book to read. And, I'll admit, that there were some parts where I had no idea what was going on, although I think this says more about my abilities than Ms. Morrison's.

One of the things that I liked best about this book was that we are told about slavery from the slaves themselves, instead of from the viewpoint of the slaveowners. And the telling is done in such a way as to not just tug at but absolutely strain our emotions -- there is no feeling of being at a safe distance from the horrors. We are put inside the characters' heads and forced to see them as human beings, subject to the same wants, fears, and joys that we have.

The main theme of the book involves the necessity of facing the past and dealing with our demons before we can truly move on. I think this is an important lesson for everyone, no matter what their past may contain. And the specific example of facing the horrors of slavery is also a lesson for the United States of today, as so many of our race-related issues can be traced to that time period and its aftermath.