Breath, Eyes, Memory: A Novel

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Breath, Eyes, Memory: A Novel

by Edwidge Danticat

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | May 18, 1998 | Trade Paperback

Breath, Eyes, Memory: A Novel is rated 3.5 out of 5 by 2.
At an astonishingly young age, Edwidge Danticat has become one of our most celebrated new novelists, a writer who evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti--and the enduring strength of Haiti''s women--with a vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people''s suffering and courage.  

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, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 256 pages, 8.02 × 5.15 × 0.55 in

Published: May 18, 1998

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 037570504x

ISBN - 13: 9780375705045

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Poor story, but interesting folk tales Sophie Caco lives with her aunt in Haiti while her mother has escaped from life and a rape to New York. At the age of 12, Sophie is summoned by her mother to New York and she has to leave everything she knows behind for a new world. Her mother is haunted by dreams of the rape that produced Sophie every night, and every night Sophie wakes her mother and "saves her". When Sophie's mother realizes that Sophie is starting to fall in love, Sophie is "tested" to make sure that she is still pure. This traumatizes Sophie for the rest of her life. Yet Sophie's mom tells her stories of how and why her mother did it to her. Eventually, Sophie runs away to be with her soon to be husband, has a child, and travels back to Haiti where she learns more about what and why her mother has done. Of all the Oprah Book Club books that I have read, I've found this one the easiest to read. It reads like an auto-biography, and I suspect that it follows pretty closely to Danticat's own life and her experiences in Haiti. There is a prominent member of the Canadian government right now that is a Haitian native and when the book speaks of Haitian beauty, I picture this individual who is stunning! I really enjoyed the folk stories that the grandmother, aunt, and mother tell their children. I don't know much about Haitian culture so it was nice to read about that. Since I've never been in a situation that is even close to what Sophie and her mother have been in, I couldn't quite understand their relationship. Being that there is abuse involved, I guess I can't be surprised that Oprah chose it as her book club book. If you're going to read it, read it for the tales and information on Haiti!
Date published: 2007-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Marvy Book This is a beautifully written book that helps open your eyes to the culture and terror of Haiti. Her story manages touches down on sexual abuse, eating disorders, love, and still manages to dazzle you with the heroine's innocence.
Date published: 1999-09-09

– More About This Product –

Breath, Eyes, Memory: A Novel

by Edwidge Danticat

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 256 pages, 8.02 × 5.15 × 0.55 in

Published: May 18, 1998

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 037570504x

ISBN - 13: 9780375705045

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 A flattened and drying daffodil was dangling off the little card that I had made my aunt Atie for Mother''s Day. I pressed my palm over the flower and squashed it against the plain beige cardboard. When I turned the corner near the house, I saw her sitting in an old rocker in the yard, staring at a group of children crushing dried yellow leaves into the ground. The leaves had been left in the sun to dry. They would be burned that night at the konbit potluck dinner. I put the card back in my pocket before I got to the yard. When Tante Atie saw me, she raised the piece of white cloth she was embroidering and waved it at me. When I stood in front of her, she opened her arms just wide enough for my body to fit into them. "How was school?" she asked, with a big smile. She bent down and kissed my forehead, then pulled me down onto her lap. "School was all right," I said. "I like everything but those reading classes they let parents come to in the afternoon. Everybody''s parents come except you. I never have anyone to read with, so Monsieur Augustin always pairs me off with an old lady who wants to learn her letters, but does not have children at the school." "I do not want a pack of children teaching me how to read," she said. "The young should learn from the old. Not the other way. Besides, I have to rest my back when you have your class. I have work." A blush of embarrassment rose to her brown cheeks. "At one time,
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From the Publisher

At an astonishingly young age, Edwidge Danticat has become one of our most celebrated new novelists, a writer who evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti--and the enduring strength of Haiti''s women--with a vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people''s suffering and courage.  

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, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.

From the Jacket

At an astonishingly young age, Edwidge Danticat has become one of our most celebrated new novelists, a writer who evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti--and the enduring strength of Haiti''s women--with a vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people''s suffering and courage.
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, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.

About the Author

Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1969. Her parents emigrated to New York when she was a small child, while she and her brother remained in Haiti, where they were raised by an aunt and uncle. At the age of twelve she moved to Brooklyn to be with her parents.


Danticat began writing as a teenager, and her essays and stories have appeared in many periodicals. She received a degree in French literature from Barnard College and an MFA in writing from Brown University. At Brown she completed work on Breath, Eyes, Memory, which she had begun as an undergraduate, and the novel was published in 1994. After finishing her master''s degree, Danticat worked in Clinica Estetico, the production office of film director Jonathan Demme, who has a consuming interest in Haiti. She read and wrote scripts and continues to monitor and occasionally protest American policy in Haiti. In late 1994, Danticat returned to Haiti for the first time in thirteen years, to see President Aristide restored to power.

Danticat is the recipient of a James Michener Fellowship and awards from Seventeen magazine and from Essence. She is also the author of a collection of Haitian stories, Krik? Krak!, which was a National Book Award finalist, and the novel, The Farming of Bones (1998). She lives in New York City.

Author Interviews

Q: Why did you decide to write Breath, Eyes, Memory ? A: I started Breath, Eyes, Memory when I was still in high school after writing an article for a New York City teen newspaper about my leaving Haiti and coming to the United States as a child. After the article was done I felt there was more to the story, so I decided to write a short story about a young girl who leaves Haiti to come to the United States to be reunited with her mother, who she doesn’t really know. The story just grew and grew and as it grew I began to weave more and more fictional elements into it and added some themes that concerned me. Q: What would you say those themes are? A: One of the most important themes is migration, the separation of families, and how much that affects the parents and children who live through that experience. My father left Haiti to come to New York seeking a better life--economically and politically--when I was only two years old, and my mother when I was four years old. I was raised by my aunt and uncle, and even though I understood, I think, early on the great sacrifices that my parents were making, I still missed them very much. But having formed parental-type relationships with my aunt and uncle, I was really torn and heartbroken when I had to leave them to be reunited with my parents in New York. So I wanted to deal with that from the point of view of a child who’s faced with this situation. I wanted to include some of the political realities of Haiti--as a young girl felt
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From Our Editors

Set in Haiti's impoverished villages and in New York's Haitian community, this is the story of Sophie Caco, who was conceived in an act of violence, abandoned by her mother and then summoned to America. But in New York, Sophie discovers that Haiti imposes harsh rules on its own. This award-winning 24-year-old Haitian-American's evocative novel explores the bonds joining four generations of women. Breath, Eyes, Memory is an unforgettable novel that shimmers with the wonder and terror of Edwidge Danticat's native Haiti.

Editorial Reviews

"Danticat has created a stirring tale of life in two worlds: the spirit-rich land of her ancestry, whose painful themes work their way through lives across generational lines, and her adopted country, the United States, where a young immigrant girl must negotiate cold, often hostile terrain, even as she spars with painful demons of her past."--Emerge

Bookclub Guide

The questions, discussion topics, author biography, and suggested reading that follow are designed to enhance your group''s reading of Edwidge Danticat''s Breath, Eyes, Memory. We hope they will bring to life the many themes with which Danticat builds her story of a young Haitian woman''s coming to terms with her country, her mother, and her own identity.

US