The novel Breath, Eyes, Memory was published in 1994 by the Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat. The novel became a bestseller almost immediately and it won numerous awards. The novel became popular when it was featured as Oprah’s Reading Club selection and its popularity only rose ever since.
The novel includes autobiographical elements from the author’s life as she was raised by her aunt and uncle as well. Danticat was born in Haiti but when she was just a little girl, her parents decided to move to America in search of a better life. Danticat remained behind in Haiti until she was twelve years old and then she moved to New York with her parents where she received an education and did everything she could to adapt to a new culture.
Danticat was able to experience life from both sides and she included her experience and thoughts into her novel. She focused on presenting how hard it was for an immigrant child to adapt to a new culture and how this could end up affecting a person as she grows up. In fact, the major theme in the novel explores the process one must go through to adapt to a new culture and also how the customs and traditions one was accustomed to may affect negatively a person when that person is no longer in an environment where those customs are considered the norm.
Haitian traditions and family relationships are also analyzed in the novel and the author focuses primarily on the relationship between Sophie and her mother, Martine. The novel also focuses on the method of testing used by Haitian mothers to test their daughters’ virginity and analyzes how it impacts those who have been tested regularly.