Common Sense Media says

Haunting Pulitzer Prize winner about slavery's impact.

Users say

(out of 22 reviews)
age 16+
Review this title!
Adult Written bywinfall April 9, 2008

Pure Trash

This book contains incest, rape, pedophilia, graphic sex, extreme violence, sexual abuse, physical/emotional abuse, infanticide, and an extensive amount of profanity including lots of the F word. The scenes, ideas and thoughts are definitely for ADULTS. I presume the CSM reviewer called it "haunting" because it contains a ghost (who has lots of sex with her mother's boyfriend). There are so many good books available for kids, why read this trash?
Parent of a 17 year old Written byvaluegal April 11, 2011

only adults who know what they are getting into

This book gave me nightmares. the language is offensive and the theme is wrenching. If the bestiality and the infanticide are not enough how about forced oral sex in prison. What does it take to be to offensive?
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written byGiz_riod April 9, 2008


This is a great book overall.
Adult Written byhonestinput April 9, 2008

No one should read this book.

A family friendly site shouldn't even consider a book of this nature. It contains beastiality, graphic nudity (could be considered pornography) and many sexual deviances. Prolific profanity throughout. Do not pollute your mind with this garbage when there is so much good content out there for you to consume.
Adult Written bygreta-elisif February 21, 2009

Not Appropriate for Anyone

I agree with the reviewer with the user name “honestinput.” While I haven’t read the whole book, I’ve read enough to know it is absolute filth. Furthermore, if people want to know what slavery is and was like, they should read unbiased, historically-accurate accounts, from original sources and wholesome textbooks. Not only should no child read this (the thought of one doing so makes me ill), nobody at ALL should read it. The youngest age this title is relevant is actually infinite, and how bad it is is actually zero stars’ worth. Please read actual, classic literature instead.
Adult Written byChristee April 9, 2008
Parent Written bytesslar May 2, 2015

Agenda Driven

There are books which use profanity and extreme situations to drive a point home. Then there are the books which rely on the repeated use of these type of situations to drive an agenda. Clearly slavery is indefensible. However, so is using a hot button issue like slavery to subtly (or not so subtly) push other agendas which would not stand unchallenged on their own. This book does so. It is anti-slavery and shows well the horrors of that institution. It also paints a picture where situations that were in reality rare, sure they happened (just as such things do today), are presented as almost commonplace. Even adults are not immune to the subconscious effects of exposure to this type of 'reality based' repetition. The novel is based on a story the author read but only based as far as that story being about the runaway slave woman, about to be recaptured, trying to kill her children who were with her to protect them from a life of slavery. The author, in an interview in the NY Times says that the book is not about slavery. What then is it about? Why, given that is the case, is almost any justification I have seen for it's being required reading tied to it's depiction of slavery? This book is not lacking in the author's ability as a writer and storyteller but it is a book that needs deeper analysis than it receives at the grade levels it is required to be read. The danger is not in exposing young adults to the fact that the situations contained inside exist. Rather it is in ensuring their ability to understand these incidents as rare and to understand how authors mix fact, fiction and strong emotion to elicit a response beyond intellectual understanding of a subject. This book would fit well into a curriculum centered around teaching teens how to filter the media content that they face across the spectrum of viewpoints and delivery channels they are exposed to continuously. In that environment this would be an excellent book to analyze for how it approaches accomplishing it's objective of getting the reader to accept a certain view of the world.
Parent Written by4concernedparents September 24, 2014


Multiple mentions of people interacting sexually with cows.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 17 years old Written byasyke December 2, 2011

This is for: bieber_fever55

This is for: bieber_fever55 You might be feelin that the book is just "another outlet to blame whites." Now, obviously racial blame games happen from every race at every angle, and probably always will until the day race no longer exists. But trust me, it's not in this book. The cruelty that exists in its pages is mostly familial. And seriously, do people read a Holocaust memoir and then huff that it's just another way to blame Germans? If you felt an implied BLAME on whites based on a fictional black slavery book, it's because whites were to blame--maybe less so as time progresses but ESPECIALLY then. I think your letting your hurt feellings get the best of you, but your words can be hurtful. And im not trying to judge you or anything but you did hurt my feelings.
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 13 years old Written byTipperane April 9, 2008

I'm appalled...

That people would call this 'trash'. Right, it's certainly not appropriate for children, that's obvious. Slavery was terrible, and vicious, and it is described accuratly in this book. Should we just gloss over that point in history because it seems 'too cruel' or 'sick'? It was. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be informed of it. And this book does just that.
Parent of a 2 year old Written by2smart February 9, 2010

best 20th century novel

As a 17 yr old I love the book Beloved. I saw the movie when i was in elementary and I loved it because it was a tear jerker of how blacks treated one another, how they were being treated from others and ultimately the hard-knock life they have always and will always have. I think this movie is age appropriate for any teen. The parents could try to "protect" or "forbid", but theres a chance that their kid has seen worst in movies, especially action movies. If you want your kid to be intelligent and open minded then they should reaf the book. It's only words...
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Educational value
Great messages
Adult Written byalpha1014 March 26, 2015

Excellent book paints accurate and emotional portrayal of history

This is a great book for anyone to read. Based on my child I would say 14/15 and up, but it is a know-your-child sort of situation. Some children may not be mature enough to read something like this at that age. This is a difficult, heavy read. Incest, rape, torture, murder, as well as adult emotional themes are included. As said in the title, this book is historically accurate of that era - this is what people, specifically African Americans, went through during that time. We should not censor our children from the pain of the past. It is important for them to know what life was like, and what the true harm of slavery really is. I would recommend reading this with your child and discussing it in a book club setting. It is easy for a younger teen, or even an adult, to miss some of the crucial themes (motherhood, redemption, etc.).
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byseventeen April 9, 2008

This was a GREAT book

Adult Written byewha16 April 9, 2008

one of the best books i've ever read

i thought it was beautiful. intense, yes, but it's an integral part of the story. we say, kids shouldn't be exposed to such strong violence, etc, but in my opinion, that's the very reason WHY sethe did what she did. so her children would't have to experience what she did. and they would have experienced it in real true life, not by reading it off a page in the comfort of a safe, secure living room. i was sixteen when i read this book a year ago, and what i remember of it was a poignant story of family relationships and coming of age.
Adult Written bypaigeturner89 April 9, 2008

Dark, but Deep

This is one of the most incredible books I have ever read. It was voted the best peice of literature written in the 20th century by New York Time writers. Toni Morrison is not conservative in her depiction of this based-on-true-circumstances story (obviously, there were no haunting incidents). Teens, when mature enough need to be able to examine works such as these. The difference between this book and other violent and sexual media, is that Morrison uses the negotiable content as a means of painting her vivid historical picture, not as an end in itself.
Adult Written byquicknshiny April 9, 2008
Educator and Parent of an infant and 4 year old Written byTerreece Clarke April 9, 2008

A Classic...

Yes it contains intense scenes and emotion. Slavery was intense and inhumane and all together crap. Often it is glossed over with sweeping mansions and magnolias. Our children are left with a sense that slavery was just mean. The book is a good read for older teens who can discuss the layers of the book. Toni Morrison is one of the prolific writers of our time.
Teen, 15 years old Written byashbooann16 August 6, 2009


I just got done reading after this review. All overall, it was a great book. At times I couldn't take some of its nature and I really wanted to put it down though. It's like a not-sugarcoated, not-textbook like version of slavery. It was quite intense, but maturity is needed to read this book. Anyone over 16, I'd say.
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 16 years old Written bydordorico February 11, 2011

those who dont learn the lessons of history are doomed to repete them

its a good book that has lessons in history and is important to show that not all violence was whites killing blacks and it shows that everyone deserves a second chance
What other families should know
Too much sex
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byjesuslovesthischick April 9, 2008