Breath, Eyes, Memory

Edwidge Danticat

Krik? Krak! has been on my mental book list for a while, so even though the blurb on the back of this book didn’t make it sound very exciting, I decided I fared a better chance with it than the other lackluster titles found in the stacks at the library. Luckily it is a much more dynamic book than that blurb lets on.

Sophie’s mother sends for her when she is twelve, having left Haiti for New York years before. After being raised by her aunt in her mother’s absence, the book begins with Sophie making a mother’s day card for her Tante Atie, which the woman refuses with tears, having just received the plane ticket that will reunite Sophie with her mother. Within a week, they are making their hurried goodbyes at the airport. This is one of those books I felt like I knew what was going to happen, only to discover how wrong my predictions were.

I come from a place where breath, eyes, and memory are one, a place from which you carry your past like the hair on your head. Where women return to their children as butterflies or as tears in the eyes of the statues that their daughters pray to.

“There is a place where woman are buried in clothes the color of flames, where we drop coffee on the ground for those who went ahead, where the daughter is never fully a woman until her mother has passed on before her. There is always a place where, if you listen closely in the night, you will hear your mother telling a story and at the end of the tale, she will ask you this question: ‘Ou libéré?’ Are you free, my daughter?”