Jill's Reviews > God Help the Child

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
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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 daughter of lighter-skinned parents who are shamed of their daughter’s midnight black skin (“she was so black it scared me.”) Bride carries her mother’s rejection to adulthood, where she assumes another kind of skin (all-white clothing, all the time) and takes her place as an executive at You, Girl, a trendy cosmetic company, where “black sells.”

But soon everything starts unraveling. Her lover, Booker, tells her, “You are not the woman I want.” And then there’s the run-in with a woman from her past – a child molester she helped put behind bars. Most terrifying of all, more and more, Bride begins to physically resemble her former self. How will she be able to claim – and love – her authentic self?

The journey toward self-acceptance is the major theme as this novel progresses. Since this is Toni Morrison – in my mind, a literary goddess – the writing is very often luminous and the issues explored (racial issues, child abuse, emotional scarring, the misplaced emphasis on physical beauty) are dealt with masterfully.

I was reminded a little of Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy Snow Bird (although, of course, Ms. Morrison has her own distinct style). I might have preferred the message to be a tad more nuanced (for example, at one point, Bride meets a young girl with a black-and-white kitten. The girl asks her mother “Why is her skin so black?” “For the same reason yours is so white.” “Oh. You mean like my kitten?” “Right, born that way.”) Still, this is a worthy addition to Toni Morrison’s many wonderful works. Long may she reign!
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Reading Progress

February 4, 2015 – Shelved
February 4, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
February 24, 2015 – Started Reading
February 26, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Ij (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ij Great review!!!


message 2: by Mel (new) - added it

Mel yes; the woman can write! I think I will just hold onto my adoration of Beloved and pass on this. I'll just enjoy it through your insightful review.


Joan I couldn't have described this better. I think that you really had to read this with an open mind as I took her changing appearance literally and was disturbed by how it changed one way and then back again. Was that all in her own head? Otherwise I really liked the story and all of the points is view it showed. And hey-- maybe not all convicted child molesters actually guilty. People are so quick to accept the labels. Just one more example of how people believe what they choose to and punish based on that


Joan I couldn't have described this better. I think that you really had to read this with an open mind as I took her changing appearance literally and was disturbed by how it changed one way and then back again. Was that all in her own head? Otherwise I really liked the story and all of the points is view it showed. And hey-- maybe not all convicted child molesters actually guilty. People are so quick to accept the labels. Just one more example of how people believe what they choose to and punish based on that


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