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God Help the Child

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  25,121 ratings  ·  3,439 reviews
Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child—the first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment—weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.

Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child is a searing tale about the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult. At the center: a woman who calls h
Hardcover, 178 pages
Published April 21st 2015 by Knopf
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Lauren Nicole Just finished it. Unimpressed. It's hard to disrespect Ms. Morrison's work and what she means to literature, but this just wasn't it. …moreJust finished it. Unimpressed. It's hard to disrespect Ms. Morrison's work and what she means to literature, but this just wasn't it. (less)
Ro God Help the Child is definitely an adult book. There are frequent references to sex, in enough detail to be inappropriate for kids. But more so, the …moreGod Help the Child is definitely an adult book. There are frequent references to sex, in enough detail to be inappropriate for kids. But more so, the descriptions of child physical and sexual abuse, exploitation, complete neglect and rejection of children by their parents could be very disturbing for young readers.

For their parents, however, it may help to examine the impact of assumptions we make about our kids and their futures.(less)

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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  25,121 ratings  ·  3,439 reviews

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Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Read this in one breath. Really lovely novel about how a young woman made a desperate choice to be loved by her mother, how that choice would shape her life, and how she was able to overcome a mistake to become her own woman. I am especially marveling at the novel's structure and how it all comes together at the end. I was both surprised and satisfied by the ending. This is just an excellent novel. ...more
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When I took a grad school class on Toni Morrison, I started a (pretentious, I know) tradition of 9-word reviews of her work. Look, I was young and she had written 9 books at the time.

Anyway, I'll do the same here:

Everybody is fucked up. There's usually a good reason.

Then I'll cheat and add that Toni Morrison is a national treasure and I'm so thankful to have her books in my life.
Will Byrnes
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
No lonesome wandering child with a fishing pole passed by and glanced at the adults in the dusty gray car. But if one had, he or she might have noticed the pronounced smiles of the couple, how dreamy their eyes were, but would not care a bit what caused that shine of happiness.
A child. New life. Immune to evil or illness, protected from kidnap, beatings, rape, racism, insult, hurt, self-loathing, abandonment. Error-free. All goodness. Minus wrath.
So they believe.
The children in this nov
Barry Pierce
Everybody bow down, Toni Morrison still reigns. In this short novel, we meet Bride. A young woman who, as a child, testified in a court case which led to the imprisonment of an alleged child abuser. Twenty years later, Bride tries to make peace with the woman whom she sent to prison. I'll stop there and allow you to read the rest of the novel.

Morrison imbues this novel with her renowned mastery of prose which allows the reader to sweep through this novel in only a sitting or two. This novel is a
May 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: african-american
3.5 stars

“No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the mind always knows truth and wants clarity.”– Toni Morrison, God Help The Child

It took me a while to write this review, mainly because I was trying to find the right words. I’ve read most of Morrison’s books There was something about it that did not feel very much like her other books. That’s not to say an author has to stick to one writing style but there were some parts of the book that caught me off-guard. Structurally this felt quite dif
Apr 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
This novel is really not good...The reviews have been studiously polite but have been gesturing to the deficits in the book, which are considerable. I say this not to discredit Toni Morrison because I love her work. But the elements of this novel are explored with so much more nuance and terrible beauty elsewhere in her oeuvre: cruelty, sexual abuse, color consciousness, and the terrible vulnerability of children (The Bluest Eye) and the inhuman force of fire, the irresistible allure of a strong ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Just. What?

Why did we need to shift into Brooklyn's and the falsely accused woman's perspectives? Their sections were impossibly short and didn't do anything to drive the narrative or develop any characters. Why did Queen become such an integral part of the story so late in the game? Why do Sweetness chapters bookend this story when she has very little to do or contribute to the storytelling anywhere else? Why so much molestation? There are at least five separate cases referenced; I was expectin
Diane S ☔
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 Absolutely amazing, Morrison can put a story together as very few can. Although only a short novel, so much is said, so much emotional territory is covered. When Sweetness, a light skinned black gives birth to a blue black baby, she is appalled as is her husband who quickly leaves the family. Treating her daughter, Lulu Ann roughly, she makes excuses for herself by thinking she is teaching her child how rough the world would treat her by the color of her skin. Calling herself Bride, Lulu Ann ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Toni’s passing this year was a sad moment for me. I read all her books again and this is my first reading of God Help The Child. It is a beautiful love story, full of blood and viscera but still optimistic and life-affirming. The story of Booker and Bride is one that I will not soon forget. Of course, the writing is a pleasure to read and savor. Toni Morrison’s swan song is one of her truly great additions to the canon of great American literature.
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Writing this review has shifted my rated from 3-4 stars, to 5.

What an eclectic book, what an interesting writer! This is my first foray into Toni Morrison books. I listened to the audio, narrated by the author. She has a dreamy voice, I was initially feeling a little mesmerised and sleepy, but decided to enjoy the story telling, by the creator, it is real. Her words pack a punch at every turn, every statement is strong and full bodied. The process of writing this story must have been exhausting
A powerful novel that asks more questions than it answers. I love how Morrison names startling and pernicious topics that influence our present society in God Help the Child, such as the privilege and glorification of whiteness as well as the horrors of child abuse and molestation. Despite its brevity, this book feels intense, as it contains so many deep emotions and fraught tensions between characters and their desires for love, peace, and acceptance. Yet, the book never feels overwrought, perh ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was sitting half-read in a Kansas City hotel room, while I was visiting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. After finishing the novel, I reflected on one of the characters' saying that race doesn't exist, that it's not a scientific but a social construct and even more so an economic engine; and I was reminded of the museum, where these same ideas are so very apparent.

Though the main female character is gawked at for both her blue-black skin and her beauty, race is not the novel's main t
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Warning: Strong language and adult situations

God help the child sentenced to life as a character in a Toni Morisson novel. God help the child. Her fans, including my own troubled self (but not the untroubled one), know that within Morrison's work there lurks the F.U.S.T.H. The FUSTH invisibly powers the outward fling of consequence, or it magnetically calls actors back to its charged core. The Fucked-Up Shit That Happened. The Fucked-Up Shit that Happened finds itself inscribed upon her characte
Ron Charles
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Last month while accepting a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Critics Circle, Toni Morrison noted that back in 1970 when she published her debut novel, “The Bluest Eye,” “the reception was slight, indifferent.”

Forty-five years and one Nobel Prize later, the reception has been entirely redecorated. Her 1987 classic, “Beloved,” is justly inscribed in the literary history of the 20th century; her name is regularly invoked along with Faulkner and Ellison. Her new novel, “God Help th
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2015
Unfortunately, this felt more like a parody of a Toni Morrison novel rather than an actual Toni Morrison novel. (In truth, it felt like a parody of a novel, period, considering it was really more like a 90pp. novella set in big type with lots of white space to bulk it up to a $25 hardcover.) Sadly, Morrison's larger than life emotions weren't heady, but maudlin; the usually legendary and mythic tenor of the events curdled into cliche. The writing felt not pitched in a heavenly key, but just over ...more
Connie G
The theme of childhood traumatic events leaving lasting damage runs through "God Help the Child". The central figure in the book is Lulu who was rejected by her lighter skinned parents because her skin was "midnight black, Sudanese black". When she was young, Lulu makes a terrible mistake to get her mother's attention and approval. When Lulu becomes older, she works for a cosmetics firm and changes her name to Bride. The beautiful Bride embraces her dark blue-black skin, and accentuates it by al ...more
Raul Bimenyimana
Toni Morrison's death last month was a shock, a person who had given flawless art to this world and through her words offered deeper and better understandings and meanings. Watching people's reactions and seeing how much she meant to so many was moving and affirming and so I decided to read this book.

I was at first hesitant to read this particular book, published while she was 84, since I thought it would be a disappointment not able to match the excellent and soaring works that preceded it: Bel
Book Riot Community
This was my first Toni Morrison. It has made me question why I never read her before now. God Help the Child revolves around a woman named Bride, born with blue-black skin, a sin for which her mother had no forgiveness. She and seemingly everyone she knows have faced scarring childhood trauma. Those traumas make up the central theme of the book: how our childhoods affect us for the rest of our lives. The decisions we make, the people with which we choose to associate, and our worldviews are deep ...more
Jason Koivu
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Giving a Toni Morrison book only 3 stars seems ridiculous in light of some of the 4 and 5 star ratings I've doled out. What I'm saying is, Morrison can write the pants off of most writers. Whether you like her stuff/style or not, it must be admitted that the woman can string together one word after another in a very pleasing manner.

Having said that, God Help the Child did not enthrall me as others of hers have. I'm not 100% sure why. There could be a number reasons, here are some of them:

There w

I love that so many other reviewers share my sentiments that it feels eerily wrong rating a Toni Morrison novel less than 4 stars or not singing her praises. Many people also mentioned that, we'll give her a break she is 84 years old still writing a novel and living her dream. True. I guess I didn't take that into consideration. I was wondering why her later novels have been short and underdeveloped. the woman is 8 decades old plus some change so the fact that I was expecting Beloved or T
Deborah Markus
"You're not having a baby. You're having a person."

How many of us would dare to have children if we were required to get this idea tattooed on our hearts and minds first? If we had to hear it said to us every morning for a year, and make some reply proving we understood what it meant?

This book is often harsh and occasionally beautiful. It would also, as my 17-year-old son likes to say about certain books and movies, make excellent birth control.

Happy early Mother's Day.
Jocelyn Jazmen
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A short, searing novel that aims to grab you and pin you against the wall.

A light skinned African American woman panics when her child is born ‘too dark’. Her husband, also light-skinned, leaves the family over this issue.
The mother practices tough love in order to prepare her charcoal black daughter for the discrimination she’ll face in the world. But at the same time she is repulsed by her daughter and even avoids touching her.

While in elementary school there was an opportunity for the little
Jessica Woodbury
How is Toni Morrison still this good?
This short novel starts with a brief chapter by a mother whose daughter is born with exceptionally dark skin. The mother, Sweetness, says very little, but you can see that she thinks this is a curse her daughter must bear. That attitude is the beginning of a woman's journey and a story about child abuse of all kinds. Physical, sexual, emotional, it's all here in one way or another. None of it is described in detail, the story picks up when Sweetness's daughte
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At less than 200 pages, this was a relatively easy read. (If you're familiar with Morrison's work, you'd know this is a big deal.) It's one of the weaker novels I've read from her so far. Still, a weak Toni Morrison novel is better than most others, which would explain my rating (somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars).
As weak as it is in comparison to several of her other works, I liked it, and the writing is pretty good- "...between hedges and towering trees Adam floated, a spot of gold moving down
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
2015: The Year of Reading Women
The cycle of life, naivete, childhood burdens, and of course the all-knowing sigh of a battle-worn parent who finally gets to say, "Now that you're a parent, you'll see how hard it is." The (view spoiler) element was a nice surprise, and I'm glad it wasn't mentioned in any synopses. ...more
Mar 13, 2015 rated it liked it
I would rate this novel 3.5 stars.

I have read nearly every novel Toni Morrison has written. I always approach the reading of her novels with equal parts anticipation and apprehension. This novel,'God Help the Child', was not an exception. Ms. Morrison's novels are always harshly honest and beautifully written. And without exception, they force me to really SEE the aspects of society… racism, poverty and harmful cultural stereotypes.. that perhaps I would like to ignore or downplay.

'God Help the
Alexia Lewis
Reading a Toni Morrison book is like drinking a hot cup of tea. It cannot be rushed you are forced to sip slow, to savour and enjoy each moment. Toni has a way of delicately peeling back layer after layer like a rose to uncover her intricate stories. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The foundations of a child are so crucial to how they will develop and behave in their adult life. What issues they may have, how they will deal with others. Whether they will be able to love or accept love. How they ...more
Naz (Read Diverse Books)
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Review can also be found in my blog:

*3.5 STARS*

God Help the Child opens explosively with writing that showcases how easily Toni Morrison is able to transition into the 21st century. The first two chapters are told from the perspectives of two of the novel's most important characters, Sweetness and Bride. These two women are mother and daughter, and their complex, unsavory relationship is expertly depicted by Morrison in her typical evocative and incisive language. Unfortun
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
In one of my favorite books of all time – Beloved – Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison wrote, “Would it be all right? Would it be all right to go ahead and feel? Go ahead and count on something?”

God Help The Child, Ms. Morrison’s latest book, is no Beloved. The sheer power and nuances and poetry does not quite reach that level. But like Beloved, it unflinchingly explores the risk of feeling – counting on something – when that very act is risky.

Lula Ann Bridewell (later shortened to just Bride, is the
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Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford) was an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best k

Articles featuring this book

The celebrated author of Beloved talks about her latest novel, the taut and unflinching God Help the Child, the business of color in modern...
55 likes · 27 comments
“You don't have to love me but you damn well have to respect me.” 55 likes
“No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the mind always knows truth and wants clarity.” 51 likes
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