One Sentence Review: The book is very long, with long, ongoing descriptions and random plot stories that make for a good, complex story for academic purposes and perhaps enjoyable to adults, but for teenagers, is quite boring and excessive.
Song of Solomon begins with one of the most arresting scenes in our century's literature: a dreamlike tableau depicting a man poised on a roof, about to fly into the air, while cloth rose petals swirl above the snow-covered ground and, in the astonished crowd below, one woman sings as another enters premature labor. The child born of that labor, Macon (Milkman) Dead, will eventually come to discover, through his complicated progress to maturity, the meaning of the drama that marked his birth. Toni Morrison's novel is at once a romance of self-discovery, a retelling of the black experience in America that uncovers the inalienable poetry of that experience, and a family saga luminous in its depth, imaginative generosity, and universality. It is also a tribute to the ways in which, in the hands of a master, the ancient art of storytelling can be used to make the mysterious and invisible aspects of human life apparent, real, and firm to the touch. (Summary from Amazon).
I’m sure there is someone out there who read this book and was blown away by the complexities and description and historical themes, but that someone is not me. The reasons why I gave this book a 3.4 have to do with plot structure, character development, and thematic messaging. This novel hits those three categories with top marks, so it's not hard to see why many schools include Song of Solomon in their curriculum. And the end of the novel makes you feel like Morrison answered all your questions about identity and the purpose of life, but then once the afterglow of the novel wears off, you realize she didn't really answer any questions, but just reaffirmed the answers you already knew and asked new questions. If that's Morrison’s purpose, then by all means, she did a wonderful job. Coming at this from a historical and thematic standpoint, Song of Solomon does an amazing job depicting African American life during the mid 1900’s, and shows the contradictory nuances of the time. Thematically, she really goes deep into the power of storytelling, the importance of family history, how everyone is on a journey, and that to be human one must care about themselves, others, and life in general. So maybe I’m just too young to appreciate this book, and someone else will fall in love with the bizarre characters such as Milkman Dead, Guitar, I Corinthians, and Pilate, and how everyone’s connections deepen the thematic messages. I hope if you choose to read this book, that you like it, (and you’ll like it more if you enjoy historical fiction). If you are like me and enjoy page turners, action novels, and tales of romance, this book will bore you, so just skip it!
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