In the simplest of terms, ‘Breath, Eyes, Memory’ is a coming of age story. Sophie, born in a poor rural section of Haiti, is raised by her grandmother and Aunt. Her mother lives in New York, trying to make a better life for herself and her family by sending money back home. Sophie is 12 when her mother summons her to New York.
I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to leave everything you are familiar with and be expected to slip right in to a new culture (that should but won’t accept you). This was not an easy read. While most coming of age story focus on one life changing event, this story tackles the issues of culture change, rape, mental health, and trying to assimilate while holding on to tradition. What made me love this book is the fact that Edwidge didn’t shy away from any of the taboo subjects. Sophie had to endure the humiliation of being ‘tested’ every month. A process where her mother inserts a finger in her vaginal opening to make sure she is still a virgin. Sophie’s mother is jealous that her daughter has not suffered as she has and attempts to thwart any happiness Sophie comes across. This book is raw and real, it ain’t no fairy tale.......so don’t bother looking for the happy ending.