Marked By Fire by Joyce Carol Thomas: A Book Review

marked-by-fireIt bears a little resemblance to Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye ( 5 stars). Both deal with RAPE and were eventually banned from American studies since it is a children’s novel. However, it is not as astounding as T. Morrison’s. There is nothing new to it. The story is very plain and seems lack of strong elements to catch my imagination although I felt Joyce Carol Thomas’ may- have –been- intention.

All I could I feel was that the characteristics of the protagonist, Abbysinia- she is possessed with Pollyanna attitude. She is innocent, positive about life, congenial, amiable and enthusiastic for her devotion to religion as she is influenced by her significant others despite the tragedy befalls her. In addition, the names of the characters add to the mood and tone of the plots and settings such as PATIENCE and STRONG, along with his THE BETTER WAY Barbershop, which might have symbolic meanings. Thus, I read it with a light touch.

Unlike Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the only problem with this is that it sounds lackadaisical. The passages are too weak, gentle and lack of strong, vivid words to feel the emotions-let alone the negative feelings of the characters. All I could feel were goody feelings as if the characters dissimulate their true feelings by turning to religion, as though I were one of the characters wanted to vent my stuffy feelings. So I was boggled at how come it met the standards of winning the National Book Award. In comparisons with the other runner-ups, although I have not read them yet, I bet my boots that one of them should have been worth deserving of the award. But one thing I am certain about is that as I said before, panelists could be subjective. In this case, religious beliefs are one of the factors skewing their opinions.

The novel is said to have something to do with Joyce Carol Thomas’s personal accounts. She had deeper impression from her childhood experience in her hometown.

I don’t mean to underestimate it. Perhaps it is not my cup of tea or there is nothing new to the story since I have read such novel several times . I wish she had written it in a different style.

Rating: 1/ 5 stars 


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