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  • Writer's pictureNeighborhood Reads

Val's Pick: "Recitatif" by Toni Morrison

I didn’t know that Toni Morrison had written a short story (her only one) until I heard “Recitatif” mentioned on a podcast. The description of the plot stayed with me so when I saw it on the shelf at Neighborhood Reads, I took it as a sign and devoured the forty page story in one sitting (which is how I recommend reading it).

In “Recitatif,” Toni Morrison tells a story of two girls, one Black and one white, who meet when they are 8 years old during a four-month stay in a children’s shelter. Their paths continue to cross multiple times throughout their lives with each encounter revealing more about how each girl remembers her stay in the children’s home.

What makes this short story so intriguing -- besides Morrison’s writing -- is that Morrison never reveals to the reader which girl is Black and which girl is white. The result this had on me as a reader is powerful. It helped me remember why I love to read. To use a very common phrase, it reminded me that reading not only provides me with windows into other people’s lives but also allows me to hold up a mirror to my own life and reflect.

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