Book Review - Love by Toni Morrison

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The novel is Toni Morrison's 2005 offering, entitled simply and with great accuracy Love (Knopf, 2003).

Some critics have complained that the title seems misplaced for a novel where so many characters are unloving, but I think that critique misses Morrison's point: what often passes for love in this world may actually be something else, such as possessiveness, addiction, transitory desire, greed, or even a mask for hatred.

The major narrator, L, reveals her full name only at the end of the books. "If your name is the subject of First Corinthians, Chapter 13, it's natural to make it your business." What Love's "business" shows us is that the most lasting relationship in the book is the love between two girls, Christian and Heed, which is interrupted when old man Cosey takes Heed as his wife when she is only eleven. The girls' subsequent lives remain interconnected, however, and they are reconciled as Heed dies in Christine's arms.

The novel also details the moral maturation of a young man named Ramen. About to participate in a gang rape, Ramen finds he cannot go through with it and instead assists the victim, calling down mockery and hostility from his six "friends," the rapists. Afterwards, he wonders: "What was that thing that had moved him to untie her, cover her, Jesus! Cover her! Cover her up? Get her on her feet and out of there?... But he knew who it was. It was the real Ramen who had sabotaged the...dangerous one." Later, the same compassionate impulse forces "the real Ramen" to leave the bed of his sexy but inconsiderate lover in order to rescue Christine and Heed, whom she had abandoned. In a culture crammed with fake love, the genuine article shines like a priceless jewel.

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