Too Beautiful For
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by Monique W. Morris
Format: Hardcover, 288pp.
Pub. Date: September 2001
Reviewed by Thumper, AALBC.com
Too Beautiful For Words, the debut novel by Monique W. Morris, is a small little miracle of a book. In a novel that is steeped in reality, under the grimmest condition, with acts of violence, cruelty and degradation, Too Beautiful For Words emerges with a sense of hope. As I said, Too Beautiful For Words is a small miracle of a book.
Too Beautiful For Words is a novel that centers on the life of Jason. Jason is the son of Peaches and Jesus. Jesus is Peaches' pimp, who eventually murders Peaches in front of a 9 years old Jason. As Jason is shuffled through foster homes and detention centers, he establishes a line of communication with Jesus, who happens to be in prison serving time for another murder. Along the way Jason becomes friends with Chinaka, a former Black Panther who had befriended Peaches years before her death. Jason now has to choose on the kind of life that he wants for himself and his son, Dominic.
Too Beautiful For Words is wonderful book. The four main characters narrate the book: Peaches, Chinaka, Jason and Jesus. Ironically, Jason doesn't narrate too many chapters. Between the other three the complete portrait of Jason is revealed. Jason is simply the touchstone, the only thing in common for Peaches, Chinaka, and Jesus. The novel is told by breaking down the ’third wall’. The novel makes you, me, a character in the book by talking directly to us. I'm sitting in the church pew, next to Peaches, while she tells me her life story, her love for Jason and Jesus. I'm undercover with Chinaka as she is lurking in the shadows doing work for the community. I'm sitting on the step next to Jesus as he waits for Jason to pick him up, listening to him describe the game of being a pimp. What's interesting and unique about Morris' approach is that the story moved back and forth in time, changing settings on a dime, and I wasn't confused. I sat back, enjoyed the view, and let Morris do the driving.
The character development in the novel is strong and concrete. Morris’ narrative approach could not have been accomplished if the opposite was true. For instance, Jason handles only two or three chapters. By the time Jason starts his narratives duties, I already had a strong sense of whom Jason was. Excellent. The dialogue is real. Morris doesn't let up. Morris doesn't shy away from the violence. The book wouldn’t have been effective or as powerful if she did.
Too Beautiful For Words is book that almost tells about itself from its title. It's a wonderful, beautiful book. Oh yeah, I most definitely highly recommend it. I can't wait for the next Morris book.