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God Help the Child

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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 herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life; but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love until she told a lie that ruined the life of an innocent woman, a lie whose reverberations refuse to diminish ... Booker, the man Bride loves and loses, whose core of anger was born in the wake of the childhood murder of his beloved brother ... Rain, the mysterious white child, who finds in Bride the only person she can talk to about the abuse she's suffered at the hands of her prostitute mother ... and Sweetness, Bride's mother, who takes a lifetime to understand that "what you do to children matters. And they might never forget."

178 pages, Hardcover

First published April 21, 2015

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About the author

Toni Morrison

183 books17.6k followers
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 known are her novels The Bluest Eye , Song of Solomon , and Beloved , which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. In 2001 she was named one of "The 30 Most Powerful Women in America" by Ladies' Home Journal.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,776 reviews
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 121 books157k followers
February 24, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,295 reviews120k followers
March 4, 2021
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 novel can use all the help they can get, whether from God or some other source. Lula Ann Bridewell was not what her high-yellow parents had expected:
She was so black she scared me. Midnight black, Sudanese black…Ain’t nobody in my family anywhere near that color…I hate to say it, but from the very beginning in the maternity ward, Lula Ann embarrassed me.
Toni Morrison said in an interview, “For me, the tar baby came to mean the black woman who can hold things together.” In this instance it is about a very black woman who cannot.

While she may be a successful cosmetics pro, beautiful, successful, rising in the world, we meet the adult Lula Ann, who has erased the rest of her name and now calls herself by the mononym “Bride,” as she is unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, The One, Booker Starbern, who announces, “You’re not the woman I want,” before exiting to the percussive accompaniment of a slammed door. How this came to be, and Bride’s quest to figure out why it did, provide the foundation to which the rest of the narrative elements are added.

Bride has a bit of a tough go, as her appreciation for people and relationships is only skin deep. She tells of her Diet Coke-like sex life, “deceptively sweet minus nutrition.” She tries to blow off her dumping,
Well, anyway it was nothing like those double-page spreads in fashion magazines, you know, couples standing half-naked in surf, looking so fierce and downright mean, their sexuality like lightning and the sky going dark to show off the shine of their skin. I love those ads. But our affair didn’t even measure up to any old R-&-B song-some tune with a beat to generate fever.
but fails at that. In fact the departure of Booker sparks a physical demise for Bride, well, a magical-realist retreat that no one else seems to see, as she progressively devolves back to a child, losing her ear-piercings, pubic hair, weight, sense of taste, menstrual cycle and breasts.

Toni Morrison - from The Guardian

Bride’s erstwhile, and very secretive bf, Booker, has issues of his own. (He especially liked her lack of interest in his personal life.) Where Bride is totally focused on the surface of things, Booker, who plays jazz, hides behind his intellect, applying himself to the study of the root of all evil, but never really freeing himself to become an entire person. He carries a burden of rage from his childhood that keeps him from being his own person. Only if Bride and Booker can build themselves up to actual three dimensional people, by looking beyond their own skins to consider the feelings of others, can they have any hope of anything more from life than ephemeral pleasures. Only then can they truly connect.

Much of God Help the Child focuses on children, how they are treated, the long-term impact of that treatment, on themselves and on others. Childhood here is a particularly fraught state. Lula Ann (Bride) is almost shunned by her own mother, who won’t even allow her to call her “Mama,” insisting that she call her “Sweetness” instead, lest people on the street know for sure that someone that dark came from someone that light. As a child she witnesses an act of child abuse. Another character loses a relation to a child abuser, and encounters a school-yard flasher as an adult. Bride had falsely testified against an allegedly abusive teacher, done to gain at least some acceptance from her mother, so children are capable of inflicting harm as well as receiving it. Another child was prostituted by her mother, and a serial abuser, “the nicest man in the world,” is reported to have preyed on many. One might be inclined to wonder a bit at the Cabot Cove-like concentration of awfulness on display here, even if much of it is by reference.

Thematically, there is a lot in here about erasure, not only Bride’s Richard Matheson-reminiscent fairy tale reduction, some of it involving what appears to be a magic razor, Sweetness erasing Lula Ann as much as possible, Sofia, the convicted molester, doing her best to erase Bride from her life, as Bride had attempted to erase her guilt for what she had done, and it can be no accident that Bride is the designer of cosmetics, and even thinks about people in terms of how the right makeup can erase their flaws.

The pages are damp with mentions of precipitation. It rains on Bride the day after Booker leaves. Booker is rained on when he leaves a family gathering in a huff. A child of a prostitute is found while on the street in the rain, and rain moistens one of the most beautiful passages in the book, as Booker celebrates seeing his Galatea for the first time:
The sun still blazed so the raindrops falling from the baby-blue sky were like crystal breaking into specks of light on the pavement. He decided to play his trumpet alone in the rain anyway, knowing that no pedestrians would stop to listen; rather they closed umbrellas as they rushed down the stairs to the trains. Still in thrall to the sheer beauty of the girl he had seen, he put the trumpet to his lips. What emerged was music he had never played before. Low, muted tones held long, too long as the strains floated through drops of rain.
There are plenty more passages that ripple with poetic feeling. And there are some subsidiary characters who brighten up the scene. A fifty-something hippie couple seemed like magical forest dwellers, an epitome of innocence and goodness, with maybe a touch of Tom Bombadil and even Beorn the Berserker. Booker’s aunt, Queen, is a delight, vivacious, colorful, and very interesting, worthy of an entire book on her alone. The rescued daughter of a prostitute is fascinating as well.

God Help the Child is a rarity, in that it is a Toni Morrison novel set in the present. Her eleventh novel is a spare one, at 177 pages, similar in girth to Morrison’s previous novels, Home, which weighed in a very novella-like 147 pages and A Mercy, another slim volume, at 167 pages. Not that Morrison is given to producing tomes, but her books these days seem on the thin side. A larger frame might have allowed her a bit more space in which to give us a bit more. I am reminded, though, of Lincoln’s response when asked about the proper length of a man’s legs, he said “they ought to be long enough to reach from his body to the ground.” I expect that the proper size of a Toni Morrison story is the number of pages she needs to say what she has to say. She has said she is, “writing less in order to say more.” A little Toni Morrison goes a long way.

Morrison was working on a novel when she died in 2019 at 88, which makes God Help the Child the last complete novel she published. While God may have been asleep as the wheel when most of the children in this tale suffered what they suffered, maybe God helped the author, at something she was most definitely inclined to do, keep writing until her last breath.

You will need no assistance enjoying God Help the Child. While I would not rank it with her recognized classics, like Sula and Beloved, even a lesser Toni Morrison book is better than most of what is out there.

Review first posted – August 7, 2015

Publication date – April 21, 2015

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Morrison’s Facebook page - Morrison passed in 2019. The page is maintained by Knopf.

-----Goodreads - Interview with Toni Morrison by Catherine Elsworth
-----92nd Street Y - Toni Morrison Reads From and Discusses "God Help the Child"
-----NPR’s Fresh Air, with Terry Gross
-----The Paris Review - Toni Morrison, The Art of Fiction No. 134 – with Elissa Schappel
-----The New Yorker - Toni Morrison on Her Last Novel and the Voices of Her Characters – by Hilton All

Reviews of other Morrison work
-----2011 - Home
-----2008 - A Mercy
-----1987 - Beloved

Read but not reviewed
-----1977 - Song of Solomon
-----1973 - Sula
Profile Image for Rinda Elwakil .
501 reviews4,518 followers
April 18, 2020
"أنا خائفة، هناك أمر سئ يحدث لي، أشعر كما لو أنني أذوب، لا يمكنني أن أفسر ذلك لكني أعرف متي بدأ. بدأ بعدما قال لي:

"لستِ المرأة التي أريد"


"و لا أنا" ..

و ما زلت لا أعرف لمَ قلت ذلك. "


كلمة، فقط كلمة
كلمة قيلت أو لم تقال
كلمة قيلت و لم تصدق عليها نظرة عينك
كلمة وعدت بيها ذات لحظة و لم تفِ
كلمة تفقد فردا ذاته و تسقطه في دوائر سرمدية من الاغتراب عن ذاته
كلمة، فقط كلمة


كان هناك طفلة اسمها لولا آن، و كانت بشرتها مثل العاج الأسود و شعرها مثل مليون فراشة سوداء تغفو علي رأسها
كانت طفلة ملونة لأبوين أبيضين، طفلة تخلي والدها عن أمها فور رؤيته لها، و أم كانت تكرهها كالموت، تحرم عليها مناداتها إلا ب "سويتنس" لا أمي، و لا يمنعها عن قتلها سوي خوف علي مظهرها الاجتماعي و كراهية للسجن، طفلة كانت تتمني أن تصفعها أمها عندما تخطئ فقط لتشعر بملمس يدها علي جلدها التي كانت تتحاشي لمسه كما الأفاعي

طفلة انتظرت لحظة ملائمة حتي تترك المنزل و لا تعود أبدًا، حصلت علي عمل رائع و أسمت نفسها "عِزة" "Pride"
لتري عبر الصفحات قصة عن ندبات الطفولة التي تظل تنز قيحا وصديدا و أبدا لا تلتئم مهما تقدم بصاحبها العمر


يقول أصلان:
" "لا شئ اسوأ من الاعتياد علي القسوة.

في مشهد يدمي القلب تعترف "برايد" لحبيبها أن سبب ما أوقعت نفسها فيه من نوازل و كوارث كادت أن تودي بحياتها كان تكفيرا عن ذنب قامت به و هي طفلة و تسبب في تدمير شخص آخر و نبذه للأبد ، لماذا فعلتي ذلك ؟؟

"كي تمسك أمي يدي
كي تنظر لي بفخر و لو لمرة واحدة"

الشخص المعتاد علي القسوة دائم الشعور بعدم الاستحقاق لأي شئ، يمتن لجلاديه و يوجد لهم الأعذار لايذائه لأنه لم يكن جيدا بما يكفي أو استحق ما فعلوه به، المعتاد علي القسوة يشعر بأن في الأمر خدعة إن أخبره أحدهم كم يراه جميلًا، قد يدفعه الخوف للهرب من شخص هكذا إلي ما آذي روحه في المقام الأول

تري هنا حديثا عن المال، و كيف أنه أصل كل الشرور
عن العنصرية التي تتجلي معاناة الكاتبة صاحبة البشرة السمراء في كل حرف فيها و كأنها وضعت قطعة من لح��ها في المحبرة
عن الدين و ممثليه الناطقين بكلمة الرب في الأرض
عن الرجال و كيف أنهم لا يشتركون في شئ واحد في جميع بقاع الأرض سوي التمّلُك

عن التحرش بالأطفال
عن جروح لن تلتئم
عن القسوة�� هذه رواية عن القسوة.


يا رب..
إذا تعين لي في يوم من الأيام أن أرزق بطفل
لا أريده أن يقضي ثانية من وقته يصلح ما أفسدته في نفسه بدعوي الحب و أنا أحسب أني أحسن صنعا


تستحق القراءة

Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
556 reviews7,402 followers
April 24, 2015
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 well-wound timepiece with every cog (characters, narrative, emotion) working off each other in perfect harmony and synchronisation, in the end altogether forming a beautiful work.

This book is a true brilliant work of structure and form. Split into many different vignettes, some in first-person and some in third-person, the narrative jumps back and forward in both time and location. However, each piece is a patch on a cloak and by the end of the novel we are left with a sprawling blanket.

God Help the Child is, thus far, my favourite new release of 2015. Short, succinct, savage. It shows that, even since The Bluest Eye was written 45 years ago, Morrison has never lost a single gram of genius, intellect or bite.
Profile Image for Rowena.
500 reviews2,463 followers
July 7, 2015
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 different from her other books, with more fast-paced sections, and a couple of loose ends, though it wasn’t that evident at first.

The novella focuses on Bride, a woman with blue black skin. Ignored and neglected by her mother, and not shown any love because of her black skin, she was accepted as a successful adult in the beauty industry:

“I sold my elegant blackness to all those childhood ghosts and now they pay me for it. I have to say, forcing those tormentors—the real ones and others like them– to drool with envy when they see me is more than payback. It’s glory.”

At first I thought this book was going along the lines of “The Bluest Eye”in that it discusses colourism.Regardless of how often I read about colourism, it always surprises me how prevalent it can be, and how it can, in this case, stop a light-skinned black woman from showing any love to her dark-skinned daughter. I came across this painting the other day, A Redenção de Cam, by Modesto Brocos, which summarizes how worrying colourism is: (https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Reden...)

Yet, colourism wasn’t a theme that was as developed as I expected it would be. Perhaps it’s because the book was a pretty fast-paced book.

Despite this book not being as strong as Morrison’s others, I still quite liked it. I especially liked the conversation about how our childhood can haunt us and can often play a huge role in our adult life:

“Each will cling to a sad little story of hurt and sorrow– some long-ago trouble and pain life dumped on their pure and innocent selves. And each one will rewrite that story forever, knowing the plot, guessing the theme, inventing its meaning and dismissing its origin. What a waste.”

The main characters both carry burdens from their childhood, burdens they haven’t properly acknowledged. For example, Booker, Bride’s boyfriend, looks to his intelligence as a way of not confronting his childhood trauma. Yet it causes problems:

“I risk nothing. I sit on a throne and identify signs of imperfections in others. I’ve been charmed by my own intelligence and the moral positions I’ve taken, along with the insolence that accompanies them. But where is the brilliant research, the enlightening books, the masterpieces I used to dream of producing? Nowhere. Instead I write notes about the shortcomings of others. Easy. So easy.”

I wish this had been longer, or at least that some of the loose ends had been completed. I still had many questions!
Profile Image for Cat.
830 reviews143 followers
April 29, 2015
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 sexual connection, and the betrayal of female friendship (Sula). In an odd way, this felt like a sketch for a novel rather than an actual novel, and while it focuses on the female body as a symbol of psychic pain or community renewal (Beloved), complicating and ironizing the common representations of pregnancy as the site of restoration, drawing attention to the fact that a birth is not a happy ending but a cyclical beginning, the characterization of this central character, Bride, felt very flat to me, and the texture of the novel was not improved by turning to a different narrative center, her lover Booker. I was so hopeful about this book because I loved the excerpts I read from Morrison's recent NPR interview , but it strikes me from reading this that no one is stopping Nobel laureate Toni Morrison from publishing anything, even if it's half-baked or, in this case, merely proofing.
Profile Image for stacia.
96 reviews88 followers
July 4, 2015
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 expecting them to connect somehow or to inform one another (and aside from two of them being an impetus for a break-up, they didn't). Did Bride ever go back to Sylvia, Inc.? Are we supposed to believe this Booker dude was the impetus for her loss and regaining or breasts and ear-piercings? Oh, and that "I miss my black lady" chapter that casually mentions Bride taking a bullet for Raisin? Like, WHAT IS THIS BOOK?!

God help the child, indeed. And by "child," I mean "me." And by "help," I mean "help me make sense of what I just read."
Profile Image for Mohamed Al.
Author 2 books4,817 followers
June 24, 2016
يعد الفيلسوف الفرنسي سارتر أشهر من رفض جائزة نوبل، وبالرغم من أنه تحفظ على أسباب رفضه، إلا أن بعض النقاد يعتقدون بأنه كان يخشى ألا يعود قادرًا على الكتابة بحرية مرة أخرى.

لا أعرف إن كان ذلك صحيحًا أم لا، وما إذا كانت الجوائز مقبرة للإبداع فعلاً، ولكن هنالك فعلاً أمثلة على أدباء فازوا بجائزة نوبل ولم يعد بمقدورهم تقديم شيء جديد/جيد بعدها، فأورهان باموك بعد حصوله على نوبل يبدو أنه لم يعد يملك جديدًا يقدّمه، إذ يشعر القارئ، وهو يقرأ أعماله التي أصدرها في مرحلة ما بعد نوبل، أو على الأقل هذا ما شعرت أنا به، بأنه يكرر نفسه كثيرًا، وكأنه يكتب لنفسه.

بالإضافة إلى ذلك، لا أعتقد أنه من السهل على الكاتب أن يحافظ على لياقة قلمه وهو يقف على أعتاب التسعين، إذ من المفترض أن يتهيأ المرء للخروج وليس الدخول في تجربة جديدة. ومع ذلك لقد فعلتها التسعينية توني موريسون الحاصلة على نوبل عام ١٩٩٣.

الجميل في هذه الرواية أنها نموذج ناجح للرواية الأمريكية الحديثة -والمرنة- التي تقف على مفترق طرق بين ما يعرف بالرواية الأدبية والرواية الشعبية.

للمزيد حول الفرق بين هذين النوعين من الأدب أنصح بالبحث في قوقل عن:
‏Literary fiction vs popular fiction

أما لماذا أعتقد بأن هذه الرواية ناجحة كروايات موريسون السابقة (وإن لم تكن في مستواها) فذلك يعود لثلاثة أسباب:

١- منذ الفصل الأول تنجح مويسون في شد القارئ من ياقته ورميه في عالمها الروائي دون رحمة. نادرة هي الروايات التي تحبس أنفاس القارئ من البداية ولا تترك له فسحة لالتقاط أنفاسه حتى النهاية.

٢- لن تجد في أي رواية أخرى شخصيات روائية باسماء غريبة وتعلق في الذاكرة كشخصيات موريسون في رواياتها. لن تجد على سبيل المثال اسماء اعتيادية/قابلة للنسيان مثل جينيفر و جورج و مونيكا .. إلخ بل ستجد اسماء غريبة مثل برايد/العروس، بوكر/ المهووس بالكتب، كوين/ الملكة .. إلخ. هذه الاسماء عدا عن كونها عصية على النسيان، فهي تلعب كذلك دورًا في كشف طبيعة هذه الشخصيات وحيواتها.

٣- لغة موريسون الأدبية رشيقة جدًا، فيها الكثير من خفة اللغة السينمائية ومن سلاسة اللغة الأميركية (أو ما نطلق عليه بالعربية الكلام السهل الممتنع)

هنا بالذات يجب ألا ننسى أن نشكر المترجمة الرائعة بثينة الابراهيم التي نقلت النص إلى العربية بسرعة واتقان، محافظة في الوقت نفسه على روح العمل. إلى درجة أنني لم أشعر في أي لحظة بأنني أقرأ نصًا مترجمًا من لغة أخرى.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,732 reviews14.1k followers
February 22, 2015
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 becomes a beauty and successful in business, but not so in love.

The story shows how treatment in the past follows a person into the future, the feelings of inferiority are hard to erase. How violence is dealt to the young and helpless by the very people trusted to take care and love them. This is a gritty novel, more reminiscent of her earliest novel, Bluest Eye. Her use of spare language, her word choices, descriptions and use of symbolism, I found awe inspiring. There is so much cause and effect in this novel, not just with the main characters but in many of the relationships found within. Although it is gritty, there are also good people, people who go out of their way to help a stranger.
Atonement, is it ever possible to atone for the bad decisions of the past? Can one ever truly overcome the bad events and memories of childhood?

Thought provoking novel by an author that has truly mastered her craft. She gets it!

ARC by publisher.
Profile Image for Raya راية.
770 reviews1,331 followers
December 25, 2016

"لقد علّمتني درساً كان عليّ أن أعرفه منذ زمن؛ ما تفعله للأطفال يؤثّر بهم، وقد لا ينسونه أبداً."

في كتاب قرأته مؤخراً، لفتت نظري جملة توقفت عندها طويلاً: "مستقبلي ورائي".. نعم، فما يمر بالأطفال يشكّل مستقبلهم وقد يدمّر حياتهم! وكم هي كثيرة تلك الوحوش الإنسانية التي تختبئ وراء قناع الابتسامات الزائفة وسمعة "أكثر الأشخاص لطفاً في العالم" لتُفرغ شهواتها الشيطانية وتهتك أستار الطفولة البريئة بكل سادية وقذارة!

تطرح توني موريسون في هذه الرواية مشكلة العنصرية من زاوية جديدة -بالنسبة لي- وقضية اغتصاب واستغلال الأطفال جنسياً، خصوصاً الأطفال السود من الطبقات المسحوقة التي تعاني من التفرقة والتمييز والعبودية. تطرح هذه الأفكار بأسلوب جذّاب يحبس أنفاسك من أول سطر، وتبقى متشوقاً ومتحفّزاً لتعرف المزيد، أو بالأحرى تُهيّؤك لتلقّي الصدمة التالية.. أسلوب السرد والقصّ مميّز جداً واللغة سهل ممتنع، عدا عن الأسماء غير الاعتيادية للشخصيات والتي تحمل معاني رمزية عميقة: سويتنس، برايد، بوكر، كوين.. أسماء تُحفّر في ذاكرتك طويلاً.

هذه الرواية صدمة عنيفة لكل قارئ، تنزل على رأسك كالصاعقة! تهزّك بعنف، تُبكيك، تؤثّر بك، تفتح عينيك على أفعال كهذه تحدث في مجتمعنا ونرفض أن نعترف بها خجلاً وخوفاً وجبناً.. ليكن الرب في عون كل الأطفال الأبرياء المسحوقين..

حلمت بأني اقرأ رواية عن طفلة، قبل أن أعرف شيئاً عن هذه الرواية، أو أعرف اسمها حتى! لا أدري لكنني شعرت وكأنها تناديني لأقرأها..
يا تُرى هل تُرسل الكتب لنا رسائل خفية!

Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books781 followers
June 19, 2021

Thus concludes my rereading of Toni Morrison's novels in publication order. I finished my reread of her first novel November, 21, 2020, and ended the whole project last night, June 18, 2021.

I find I don't have much to add to my previous review, so I will leave it as is:

Previous review

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 theme. It is the sexual abuse -- rape -- of children, of all colors, by adults -- parents, teachers, strangers, the man-next-door -- and how that shapes and informs every single day of the surviving victims, even the indirect ones.
They will blow it, she thought. Each will cling to a sad little story of hurt and sorrow -— some long-ago trouble and pain life dumped on their pure and innocent selves. And each one will rewrite that story forever, knowing the plot, guessing the theme, inventing its meaning and dismissing its origin.

I read Toni Morrison not only for her themes but also her language; and while this is not the same prose of her masterpieces, it contains startling imagery and beautiful lyricism, especially in the last section. Surprisingly enough, a passage of fire in the latter reminded me of the start of the last section of Caldwell's Tobacco Road.

While not directly stated, this novel shows that everyone knows someone affected by the crime of sexual child abuse -- even if they don't know that they do. As Booker says: “Now five people know. The boy, the freak, your mother, you and now me. Five is better than two but it should be five thousand.”
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,532 followers
July 1, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Amira Mahmoud.
618 reviews8,197 followers
June 12, 2017
ليكن الرب في عوني أنا، ليكن في عوني أنا التي كنت دائمًا ما أترّنم بحظي الجيد دومًا مع الكُتب وكيف أنجذب بفعل الصدفة وبغير ترتيب أو تدخل منيّ إلى الكُتب التي بها رابط أو علاقة ما وكأنها خيط ما أن أجذب طرفه حتى يشد بعضه ��لبعض.

في هذه الرواية لا أعلم صدقًا لما خاب حظيّ، الرواية جيدة إلى حد ما لكنني كنت قد رفعت سقف توقعاتيّ معها إلى أعلاه؛ أنا لستُ ذلك القارئ الذي يحكم على عمل ما وفقًا لتوقعاته الخاصة حتى أننيّ أرفض معرفة الكثير عن الرواية قبل قرائتها اللهم إلا معلومات عن الكاتب فقط.
مناقشات أصدقائي ليّ في أي عمل ما تُسبب لهم الفزع والضجر من تأكيدي المستمر على أنني لا أريد أن أعرف شيئًا أيًا كان لا انطباعاتكم الخاصة، ولا المفاجآت التي توقعتموها أو لم تتوقعوها حتى انتهي من القراءة؛ باختصار لا أدع أي شيء مهما كان أن يجعلني أكون حكم أو رأي ما عن العمل بخلاف سطور هذا العمل ذاته.
لذا حينما قرأت أول عشر صفحات منها كتصفح انبهرت بها وقررت أنني سأقوم باستكمالها في الغد ثم ظللت ارسم أكثر السيناريوهات أثارة بالنسبة ليّ ثم في اليوم التالي قرأتها في جلسة واحدة وشعرت بالخيبة، وفقط.

الرواية عن طفلة تولد سوداء، في بيئة شديدة العداء والعنصرية؛ أسوأ ما يمكن أن يحدث لشخص هو أن يُحتقر ويُهان لا لأجل أفعال شنيعة أو سيئة ارتكبها بل لأنه ولد هكذا، لا ذنب لأحد في ذاك لا الطفلة، ولا والديها، لا أحد على الأطلاق.
وحدهم أولئك الأوغاد الذين يعتقدون أن كونهم ولدوا ببشرة بيضاء، أو أغنياء، أو في بلدة ما دون غيرها يُعطيهم الحق في السخرية والتهكم عليهم بل ومحاولة التحكم في مصائرها وكأنهم عرائس ماريونت وليسوا اأشخاصًا يملكون حيواتهم الخاصة بين أيديهم.
أيّ صلف وغرور يجعل أحدهم يتباهى بصفة ليس له يد فيها، لا أخلاق ولا نجاح ولا تلك الأشياء التي نبذل جهدًا للوصول إليها هي فقط أشياء وُلدنا بها هكذا!

قصة الرواية كان يمكن لها أن تكون من أعظم ما كُتب وما قرأت إلى الآن لو أنها أوضحت معاناة الطفلة، طريق كفاحها، اصرارها على إثبات نفسها على الرغم من رفض الآخرين لها، الاستماتة في النجاح ثم الاستماتة في النجاح.

في المقابل ماذا قدمت الرواية حقًا؟ قدمت قصة ركيكة لفتاة هجرها حبيبها ثم ذهبت للبحث عنه، قصة ركيكة لفتاة ناجحة في عالم الأزياء والموضة والجمال وتترك منصبها لكي تذهب للبحث عن رجل لم يدخل في حياتها بأسباب عقلانية وقد تركها أيضًا كذلك بلا أسباب عقلانية.

صراحة أنا لا احترم تلك الأنواع من النجاح، لا سيما ذلك الذي يعتمد بشكل ما على جسد المرأة ومظهرها وجمالها أكثر بكثير من عقلها فإذا أرادت أحداهن- سوداء كانت أم بيضاء- أن تُثبت للعالم نجاحها وكفاحها بجسدها فقط فقد سبقها الكثيرات.

رواية –كأغلب روايات الأدب الأمريكي- خفيفة، مستهترة، تصلح للمُرفهين وليسوا أولئك الذين يحاربون الحياة أمثالنا ويواجهون سوئها وقُبحها بالأدب.

Profile Image for Suz.
1,096 reviews565 followers
December 13, 2017
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.

Tough are these themes of childhood neglect, abuse and childhood misery. We are meant to cherish our young, aren’t we? So many bad things happen to our babies, it is depressing, but the author uses this to make us think.

‘Bride’ has chosen this as her name, is a young and exquisite beautiful blue black woman who has seen too much, experienced too much and has lived without all the things we take for granted. This is really heavy, it’s hard for me to put into words a summary, I don’t summarise my books here on Goodreads, anyway. Gosh, I didn’t even know the term blue black – I had to look it up, and the images I saw took my breath away. I could envision Bride to be extraordinary.

Bride shines in every way – her looks, her white clothes and shoes against her amazing skin colour, an amazing career. She has succeeded in this respect, but what she has endured in her short few years is heartbreaking. She will touch the life of the reader. Bride only ever wanted to be loved, accepted; even touched by her mother.

Read this book. I am now off to read more about the author and see if I can get a glimpse into where all these complexities come from if can, even in a small way.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,456 reviews8,553 followers
September 20, 2019
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, perhaps because of Morrison’s skilled writing style and her ability to make every word mean something.

Some of the questions I am still contending with upon finishing this novel: what can we do to fight the glorification and power of white skin and whiteness in general, especially after we name it as Morrison has done in this book? Can we really protect our children from evil or do we have to make peace with the possibility that they may very well be harmed in a racist, sexist, world that is oppressive in too many ways to count? What does it mean to love a child, and can we love a child completely, or are our children bound to spend their lives unpacking the damage we have dealt to them, even with our best intentions?

A great book I would recommend to Morrison fans and those who appreciate books that name race and also make you think through difficult, deep questions. I echo some of the critiques of God Help the Child that the characters lacked some interiority, at times I felt that they all represented a theme or idea which distanced me from truly connecting. I actually found Booker and his relationship with his brother Adam one of the most emotionally compelling components of the story. Here’s hoping more and more people will be bold in their writing just as Morrison was.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,014 reviews363 followers
January 14, 2020
Para um Mundo Pior

Deus Ajude a Criança é uma estória a 3 cores:

Discriminação, Pedofilia, Bullying

Quadros vivos que nos chocam e informam sobre vidas destruídas, minadas por actos de desamor.

Uma Exposição que nos recorda, elucida, mostra ... como se constrói um Mundo Pior!
Profile Image for Gregsamsa.
73 reviews343 followers
September 9, 2015
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 characters long before we find out what it was that happened, and just how fucked up it was.

Polite readers made no mention of how polite reviewers made little mention of her previous novel Home, which is good because it wasn't very good. It pains me to say that this one isn't either, which may have pain-related causes as Morrison endures chronic back ache such that she cannot stand for more than six minutes and she does not take pain killers. Surgery fixed it, but only for eight months.

Toni Morrison writes mystery novels. There are no detectives, investigators, trails of clues, nor any of the trappings common to that genre, but there is almost always a secret which is slowly revealed as the plot winds its way through the lives of those who have been touched by the secret, which is always a crime in some sense.

This time Morrison pulls a twist on the FUSTH, but it's there anyway, in a way, with secondary versions of the central wrongdoing promiscuously distributed throughout the story and the characters' memories. Less central characters are given their own personal taste of the FUSTH aside from the central FUSTH which might not be the kind of FUSTH we originally suspect. Yes, like mysteries, most Morrison novels can be only hazily described without spoilers.

When it comes to touchy subjects Morrison is never afraid to totally GO THERE, but in this book she doesn't do much with it once she's there. This book opens with the can of worms of intra-racial racism, or colorism, dramatizing the disdain some light-skinned African Americans have for darker-skinned people. Intensifying the touchiness is the fact that it is a mother's disdain for her daughter. Mom, or Sweetness, is quite unsweet in her pride over the fact that her own grandmother was so light-skinned that she was able to abandon her family and "pass" among white folks with a new improved life. Having an onyx baby prompts Sweetness to blame her husband's genes while he in turn suspects infidelity. But this is only tangentially related to the FUSTH.

But the strikingly dark daughter, Bride, has the last laugh: she becomes a successful executive in a cosmetics company guiding her own product line, You, Girl, on top of being so gorgeous she turns heads everywhere she goes. But in Morrison mysteries even the one who laughs last does not laugh long. Neither does this issue of skin shade last long, as its only purpose is to sharpen Bride's need for parental approval before the topic is dismissed as no longer necessary while we move from a Toni Morrison novel into Terry McMillan territory: Bride's first priority is to get her man back, to resume the vague and sketchy relationship she had with a man we barely know because Bride barely knows him and this weakness in the motivation machinery is spotted in many other characters' movements throughout. I kept asking myself Why are these people doing these things?

The only thing that is clear is that little of it has to do with either the FUSTH nor race, really, and the bafflement this inspires is not helped by some Laura Esquivel lite magical realism whose pat symbolism makes you pray the events are subjective, the product of a character's superficial mind steeped in the shallow waters of cosmetics marketing. Lesson: that's not deeply connected to authentic life. But what is?

In an amusing reversal of stories in which shallow materialistic white people are taught valuable lessons by magical black people who are more closely connected to Earth, Life, and Nature, Bride receives some rural therapy from some authentic-life whites who live not only off the grid but in an 1800's novel, the kind where if you are sick or injured as a guest somewhere, you just have to live there for a couple months. It seems almost magical that one could do this and get to know the hosts no better than on day one; they remain distant and yet therapeutic as they earnestly work through a list of homey authentic chores, becoming a quaint romantic picture of country goodness (instead of people). This is only funny with some critical distance, however, as in the novel it is utterly deadpan.

There are some bald plot problems I won't go into, ones at the quotidian logistical level, that made me wonder if Morrison's editors are too deferential. Same goes for some structural awkwardness, such as how we're introduced to a new character and her back-story begins less than twenty pages from the end of the novel, which we realize is offered in hopes that this will make us care what happens to this new person. I didn't, as the filling out of her character felt like an afterthought, and what happens to her reads like an attempt to heavy the ending with a dollop more pathos.

On just the level of plain craft, this reader found Morrison's last two novels a steep step below her previous work, and the fact that this may be because of real-life physical pain contains for me more real pathos than her last two books combined. So, in a different way, this book reminds us of something we get from so much of her writing: sometimes life really sucks.
Profile Image for A.
279 reviews102 followers
April 30, 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 overwrought....I mean, this is a book that includes the lines "her eyes were full of stars" and "she knew freedom wasn't really free" in completely non-ironic contexts.

That said, ANY Toni Morrison novel is still a cause for celebration. Why? Well first of all the woman is 84 but still cranks them out -- not just books but essays, reviews, speeches, etc., all with something vital to say if (as with this novel) slightly diminished means of saying it. I mean, God Help the Child -- she won a Nobel Prize literally a generation ago. That means, yes, there are actually people with published novels in 2015 who have never been alive in the world where the Nobel Laureates didn't include an American woman of color. How amazing is that?

More importantly, the arrival of a Toni Morrison novel means the arrival of a Toni Morrison promotional/speaking tour, and what an unmitigated joy that is. I won't link to the NYT profile of her that everyone was passing around recently, because I'm sure you read it, but I would point you to her recent writings on The Good (aka Altruism). This is a true American genius still writing truth to power and delivering it to us unfiltered and uncompromisingly. And no amount of cliched writing or slight novelistic misstep can ever diminish that.
Profile Image for Ron Charles.
1,032 reviews48.4k followers
April 23, 2015
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 the Child,” is thundering off the press with 200,000 copies.

Now 84, when no one would blame her for concentrating on ovations and grandchildren, Morrison shows no signs of slowing her steady, productive pace. Her last three novels have been slim but formally daring and thematically ambitious. Because her latest work offers curious reflections of where she began in “The Bluest Eye,” it’s tempting to read “God Help the Child” as a capstone of her jeweled career. Once again, we have a young woman whose life is overdetermined by the pigment of her skin in a culture torn with sexual violence.

But unfortunately, “God Help the Child” carries only a faint echo of that earlier novel’s power. . . .

To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,687 reviews451 followers
October 20, 2020
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 always wearing white. Although she is successful in business, Bride seems like a superficial person. When her boyfriend, Booker, leaves her, she searches for him to find out the reason.

As she looks for Booker, she meets a young girl who was abused by her prostitute birth mother. She also learns of a violent event in Booker's family that haunts him. There is a bit of magical realism in the book as Bride examines her life, and feels like she is turning back into a young child physically.

The theme of childhood abuse--both emotional and physical--is an important subject to present. Toni Morrison came through with some beautiful writing as usual. Although I liked the book, I wished it was a bit longer so that the characters, especially Booker's Aunt Queen and Bride's mother, could have been seen with more depth. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Taghreed Jamal El Deen.
629 reviews546 followers
September 11, 2020
قضية هامة وحساسة ضاعت في القالب السخيف الذي تم حشرها ضمنه.

حضرة الكاتبة.. هل حل مشكلة العنصرية يكمن بأن تكوني جميلة وتستغلي جمالك في تحسين ظروف حياتك ؟ طيب وماذا لو كانت بطلة الرواية غير جميلة هل كان عليها أن تبقى بائسة ؟ وماذا عن الرجال أيضاً ؟
إن ما تعرضينه هو عنصرية من نوع آخر !
إضافةً لترسيخ الفكرة النتنة بأن الطريق إلى الحياة الميسّرة يمر عبر الجسد، والتي ينبغي عليكِ ككاتبة محاربتها لا ترويجها.
أسفاً على زمن بات فيه الصارخون ضد الظلم لا يختلفون عن ممارسيه إلا بانعدام الفرصة.
Profile Image for Praveen.
152 reviews280 followers
February 19, 2022
I like Toni Morrison’s prose. I still faintly remember some stuff from Beloved which I had flicked through years ago. After reading this book I have made a plan to revisit Beloved again. I have a copy. Her first novel, The Bluest Eyes is also in the race. There are these four lines on the first page of Beloved, that I have,
“I will call them my people,
Which were not my people
And her beloved,
Which was not beloved.”

It seems to me as if these lines carry forwarded to this book as well, in some sense.
Oh, God! Help the children!
The sad thing is that this turned out to be her last. Morrison’s writing is easy in flow and solid in structure. In this book too, I loved her prose, her sentences, her dialogues, and above all her hermeneutics! Those hermeneutics are brief yet stately!

Sofia Huxley was in prison for 15 years. Lula Ann Bridewell, also known as ‘Bride’ in the book, was only eight years old when she lifted her arm and pointed her finger at Sofia in the courtroom. Bride was a witness. There was a case of child molestation; it remained a sort of mystery till the end. She comes out after fifteen years.
“She did do me a favor. Not the foolish one she had in mind, not the money she had offered, but the gift that neither of us planned: the release of tears unshed for fifteen years. No more bottling up. No more filth. Now I am clean and able.”

But this book is not about a mystery nor it’s only about child molestation. Morrison has tried to achieve something else. I am aware that the racial divide has been a theme in her work. While searching about the authors, I sometimes come across various weird terms, especially those nomenclatures these literary people have coined. This time I came across a word called “black literature”. They said she brought the ‘black literature’ into the mainstream. Though I understand what they mean, I thought this term in itself is creepy. Our skin can be black or white or blue or green or whatever, but literature! Can it be black or white? Literature has only one name of the color, and that’s VIBGYOR. No one color! I am telling you. And this blend of all feasible colors is something that makes literature worthy to read.

Bride was a dark-skinned child of her light skin parents and she is the main character in the story. Bride grows up and becomes a successful businesswoman. She was moving on a highway in her Jaguar and met with a minor accident while speedily turning. She damages her ankle and stuck there. One little girl comes and then she brings with her one man. This man helps her come out of the crashed car and takes her home. There is his wife and this little daughter and they help and take care of her. She spends some weeks with her broken limbs there. And she is surprised by their unconditional help and care. This was one of the scenes in the book I liked.
“They had not asked her where she was from and where she was going. They simply tendered her fed her arranged for her car to be towed for repair. it was too hard too strange for her to understand the kind of care they offered- free, without judgment or even a passing interest in who she was or where she was going.”

Booker was her boyfriend and one day he suddenly leaves her saying, “you are not the woman I want.” Booker had his own troubles as his brother was murdered when he was a kid. This relationship between Bride and Booker was very unforthcoming and both of them did not divulge some secrets and which made the relation erroneous and misleading.

There is a tone of constant sobriety throughout the book. It did not diminish for a moment for me; these modulations were not out of sight even at the moments of jubilation among the characters. This book is filled with tropes of women sensuality, gloom and obscurity, race discrimination, and child molestation. There are also falsehood, hurt, love and relationship issues. But I found the self-loathing and abandonment, through the Bride’s self-imposed narration, the two most dominant attributes of the entire plot. And Morrison has entwined them in a very suggestive manner.

Though I liked the book, the overall magic that I was expecting was missing. The story did not sprawl in the end. The book is fast-paced and its flow does not get interrupted at any moment. It was a bit perplexing in the beginning when I tried to acquaint myself with the characters. Once I knew who was who, It kept me bound all the time. This is the sad little story of hurt and sorrow- some long ago troubles and pain, life dumped on someone’s innocent soul! But its end was comforting. I liked the mild anarchy of the plot.
Profile Image for Майя Ставитская.
1,323 reviews133 followers
July 16, 2022
A young successful beauty with skin as black as pitch, suddenly goes to meet her former teacher, whom she herself helped to put in jail. Those opportunities that fate generously poured out to Bride collapsed for her former teacher Sofia, who was forced to vegetate for a decade and a half on a government purse. What could be the reason for such a strange act? We understand from the very beginning that perjury.

And that's it, but in the novel it's like this, for the future. Well, I've got an aunt for fifteen years, so what? She then came to meet her at the prison gates with a set of cosmetics and a wad of cash. And this white fool instead of gratitude beat our black beauty in the blood - ay-ay-ay! But Bride didn't even complain about her to the police, although she could have. Soon she is completely healthy, and can again cherish childhood resentments against the fate that created her, the daughter of almost white parents, so coal-black. At their mother, who was ashamed of her black hair; at their father, who abandoned them altogether.

And I am haunted by a situation in which someone's life ruined by a conspiracy does not outweigh the suffering of the heroine about the fact that her beloved left, pubic hair disappeared, earlobes overgrown, and her chest became flat. And when they reunited, everything came back - Hooray! And you don't have to worry about the unfortunate teacher - she's just white (so by definition a racist).

Political correctness, brought to the point of absurdity, does not guarantee even a great writer from strange books.

Черная невестa
Я, совершенно потеряв самообладание, до полусмерти избила чернокожую девчонку, которая свидетельствовала против меня в суде. Я била ее и ногами, и кулаками, и, как ни странно, это подарило мне куда более ощутимое чувство свободы, чем получение УДО.
Кто не выносит спойлеров - не читайте. Не то, что сейчас будет какой-то совсем лютый, не надо быть семи пядей во лбу, чтобы сложить два и два и понять, что молодая успешная женщина едет встречать с подарками и денежным конвертом освобожденную по УДО узницу не из альтруистических побуждений. Тем более, женщину, против которой ребенком свидетельствовала в суде пятнадцать лет назад.

На судебном процессе учителей-педофилов, который прежде кто-то должен был инициировать, так? То есть, не бывает же. чтобы донос и сразу суд с вынесением срока в двадцать пять лет? Сначала следственные действия со сбором доказательств, улик и всякого такого, потом ознакомление обвиняемого с делом, судебные слушания, свидетельские показания. Чтобы вот так вышла девочка, ткнула пальчиком: видела, мол, как они делали с детьми эти гадости - и ага! Такое вряд ли могло быть даже в сверхозабоченной защитой детей от педофилов Америке?

Потому что для американской ментальности детоцентризм и безопасность детей больная и сквозная тема. Начиная с "Приключений Гекльбери Финна", из которых вышла вся американская литература, через Харпер Ли, Труиена Капоте, Стивена Кинга, Ханью Янагихару - стояние на ржаном поле над обрывом и ловля играющих на нем детишек, которые слишком близко подбегают к краю - основополагающая идея.

Так вот. возвращаясь к книге и ее героине. Молодая успешная красавица с кожей черной как смоль, внезапно едет встречать на своем пижонском авто тетку, бывшую учительницу, которую сама же и помогла засадить. Те возможности которые судьба щедро отсыпала Брайд схлопнулись для ее бывшей учительницы Софии, вынужденной прозябать полтора десятка лет на казенном коште. Что могло бы послужить причиной такого странного поступка? Мы с самого начала понимаем, что лжесвидетельство.

И вот это дано в романе так, впроброс. Ну законопатила тетку на пятнадцать лет, ну и что? Она же потом приехала встречать ее к воротам тюрьмы с набором косметики и пачкой наличных. А эта белая дурища вместо благодарности избила нашу черную красавицу в кровь - ай-ай-ай! Но Брайд даже не стала жаловаться на нее в полицию, хотя могла бы. Вскоре она совсем здорова, и может снова лелеять детские обиды на судьбу, сотворившую ее, дочь практически белых родителей, такой угольно-черной. На мать, которая стыдилась своей чернушки; на отца, который вовсе бросил их.

А когда Брайд в пароксизме откровенности расскажет об аттракционе неслыханной доброты любимому Букеру (позабыв добавить, что бедную женщину она оклеветала, чтобы добиться внимания матери, и потому что прежде была свидетельницей изнасилования подростка их квартирным хозяином, но тогда не смогла ничего рассказать, потому что мать запретила ей из страха что они не смогут найти такое же дешевое жилье) Так вот, когда она расскажет своему черному полубогу Букеру, тот просто бросит ее, потому что нельзя быть добрым с такими.

Вообще, количество педофилов и детей, ставших жертвами насилия в романе зашкаливает: у Букера от рук такого мерзавца погиб брат (и еще десять детей); маленькая Лулу Мэй видит изнасилование ребенка (что, прямо на улице?); девочку Рейн, которая сбежала из дома и была удочерена парой добрых хиппи, продавала родная мать. Реально, кажется, плюнь - попадешь в извращенца. Вам не кажется, что это чересчур? Мне - да.

И мне не дает покоя ситуация, в которой чья-то загубленная оговором жизнь не перевешивает страданий героини по поводу того, что любимый бросил, волосы на лобке исчезли, мочки ушей заросли, а грудь сделалась плоской. А когда они воссоединились , все вернулось - Ура! И можно не париться по поводу несчастной училки - она же всего лишь белая (значит по определению расистка).

Политкорректность, доведенная до абсурда даже великого писателя не гарантирует от странных книг.

Profile Image for Raul.
282 reviews202 followers
September 1, 2019
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: Beloved or Sula or Song of Solomon or the The Bluest Eye or Tar Baby. It's a rare thing that I read five consecutive books by an author and to be left in awe each time in different ways, so I did not see it happening a sixth time, and not with a book published so far into the writer's career. Of course the thought is inherently ageist and foolish, and Toni Morrison proved it wrong with yet another spectacular book.

This book concerns childhood trauma and the way individuals are permanently altered by abuse. The protagonist of this story, Bride, suffers abuse as a dark-skinned Black girl and some of this abuse comes from her mother who thinks enforcing subservience in her child will make things easier for her in the world. As an adult, and as she comes into herself, more admired, attractive and wealthier and less vulnerable than she once was, she still grapples with the way the past molded her present self and a secret, the harm she once did to someone else.

I was especially impressed by the clear and well-defined characters Toni Morrison created once again. Booker who is Bride's lover, a musician/writer/economist? also holding onto a childhood pain and grief, was formed into such a familiar figure.

Published in 2015 this one is more contemporary than the Morrison books I had read before. It was strange to see the words PlayStation or Diet Coke in a Toni Morrison book. I will admit that compared to her great earlier works, this one doesn't have as sharp a focus and as inimitable a force as the others but few books generally do. By itself this is a solid work, a brilliant book.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,225 followers
January 27, 2018
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 weren't too many characters in this one that I particularly liked. Most were repulsive in some way shape or form, at least the main characters, of which there are nearly a half dozen. It's not that Morrison did a poor job creating them, it's that she did too good a job and by chance I'm not a fan of who these people are.

Another issue might be that I prefer Morrison's stories when they're set in the past. This one was her most modern setting yet, out of the books of hers that I've read. I love when she sets the scenes of days past. She does it so well and her style meshes with bygone eras like peanut butter and chocolate.

The subject matter here -child molestation- is particularly hard reading. The characters may be fictional, but that doesn't lessen the kick-to-the-gut feeling you get every time the narrative focuses on the subject.

All in all, it's a tough read. Certainly not bad, just tough for the aforementioned reasons.
Profile Image for Mia Nauca.
124 reviews3,832 followers
March 15, 2018
Una historia narrada desde varios puntos de vista pero siendo el principal el de Bride, una mujer afroamericana cuya madre blanca la rechazó durante toda su infancia. Ahora, ella es una mujer hermosa y exitosa pero que arrastrará todos los problemas de su pasado y tratará de resolverlos junto a diversos personajes que incluyen no sólo el tema del racismo sino también el abuso sexual a menores, el machismo, los engaños, las mentiras, etc.

Muy interesante y corto de leer, definitivamente vale mucho la pena!
Profile Image for kisha.
101 reviews110 followers
June 3, 2016

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 The bluest Eyes was foolish on my part.
This is by far my least favorite book by Morrison. I couldn't even get all the way through her novel Home without giving up yet this still wins as her weakest novel in my book. Morrison is the queen of themes and messages yet I'm not sure that I got the intended message from this story. Maybe more of a finding yourself kind of message. But even that wasn't successful. I didn't love the characters because they all seemed self absorbed and weakly developed. I noticed that I give low ratings to novellas so maybe that is the issue. I hope that if she ever chooses to write another novel in her golden ages that she doesn't choose to write another modern day novel because she isn't very connected with this generation. Leave that to the youngins.
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews124k followers
February 2, 2015
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 deeply affected by our childhoods. The book is also about the lies we tell to others and ourselves to justify our actions. God Help the Child is short, brutal, bittersweet, and stunningly beautiful in its execution. –Chris Arnone

From Best Books We Read in January: http://bookriot.com/2015/02/02/riot-r...
Profile Image for Asmaa Essam.
243 reviews182 followers
October 16, 2020
للأسف توقعت الكثير من الرواية وخاب ظني
لم أفهم الهدف من الرواية ولم أستثغها مُطلقاً

من المفترض أن القصة تتناول قضية العنصرية التي يتعرض لها السود في أمريكا
ومن المفترض أن البطلة الرئيسية التي تدور حولها القصة هي "برايد" الفتاة السوداء
كل هذا جميل

ولكن فجأة تجد أن القصة تسير في مليون إتجاه آخر
والتركيز ينصب على مليووون فكرة
كمية من الدماء والبيدوفيليا والحوادث الغريبة ... لا أفهم لم ��ل هذا؟
وكأن الكاتبة حاولت تجميع أكبر عدد ممكن من الجرائم والأحداث المأساوية لصنع قصة جيدة!
أيضاً جميع مرتكبي الفظائع في القصة بيض البشرة وكأن السود منزهين عن أي عيب أو خطأ
وهذا ما نطلق عليه "العنصرية المضادة"

تقريباً جميع الشخصيات مُصابين بعُقد منذ الطفولة
مشاهد إباحية ليس لها أي فائدة للقصة
ترتيب الأحداث مُربك وعشوائي
تناول القصة سطحي مليء بالهراء والسخافة الأمريكية المُعتادة

صفحات وأحداث كثيرة "ملهاش لازمة" ولا تخدم الحبكة في شيء
الترجمة ركيكة جداً
والعنوان في رأيي مُضلل ... وأوحى لي بقصة مختلفة تماماً
فأي "طفلة" نتحدث عنها هنا؟
وأي قضية نناقشها أصلاً؟

أظن أن لو كانت الكاتبة ركزت على فكرة واحدة وشخصية واحدة رئيسية وتناولت القصة بشكل إنساني أكثر، لكانت القصة طُرحت بشكل أفضل من ذلك وكانت أكثر تأثيراً
أيضاً إن كنت تريد أن تقرأ قصة مؤثرة حقاً عوضاً عن هذا الهراء
فاقرأ لـ "توني ماجواير" ... كتابيها الشهيرين
"لا تخبري ماما"
"تركوا بابا يعود"
هذا ما نسميه مأساة حقاً، من تجربة للكاتبة حقيقية ومُفجعة حد النشيج والنحيب
هذه الطفلة التي يمكننا فعلاً أن نقول
"كان الله في عونها"
Profile Image for Nadin Adel.
733 reviews69 followers
February 25, 2017

ليكن الرب في عون الطفلة!

رواية مفعمة وترابط قصصها وشخصياتها يجعلانها محفزة وجذابة، أزلت نجمتين، الأولى بسبب كم الفظاعات المذكورة عن الإساءة للأطفال -يا الله- والثانية بسبب كم الإبتذال في نص الرواية من أوصاف.

وليكن الرب في عون الأطفال أجمع .. ليت الكبار يفهمون أن الأطفال يفهمون كالكبار وأكثر، والتعليم (الذكرى) في الصغر كالنقش على الحجر .. فأعتبروا يا أولي الألباب!
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