Teresa's Reviews > God Help the Child

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
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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 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.”
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Reading Progress

April 29, 2015 – Shelved
April 29, 2015 –
page 17
9.55% "... next to a mall as pale and sad as "lite" beer ..."
Started Reading
May 2, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Howard (new)

Howard Very good, Teresa. Unlike her other books, this one seems to have received some mixed reviews. But I trust your 4 stars.


Teresa Howard wrote: "Very good, Teresa. Unlike her other books, this one seems to have received some mixed reviews. But I trust your 4 stars."

Thanks, Howard. I was a little wary in the middle, wondering if I was going to be disappointed, but right after that, I felt elevated.

Out of all of her novels, "Home" was the one I had the most mixed feelings about. But I'd still reread it and probably will do so one day.


message 3: by Dolors (new)

Dolors I do feel this book might treat sexual abuse in the same way that PTSD is treated in Home. Had the same thoughts about Morrison's writing, less polished but still poignant. Reason enough to continue reading her. Great review, Teresa.


Teresa Dolors wrote: "I do feel this book might treat sexual abuse in the same way that PTSD is treated in Home. Had the same thoughts about Morrison's writing, less polished but still poignant. Reason e..."

The writing here is very polished and even angry at times (one chapter in particular) which fits the subject matter; it's just very different from her previous works starting backwards from A Mercy, but I don't want to criticize it for that. I will always read her, even reread her. Thanks, Dolors.


message 5: by Gia (new) - added it

Gia Forakis Teresa-- I appreciate your first "review" above. Out of all the reviews I've read --including the NYTimes-- I have not (yet) read any that take this topic under consideration. The focus is mainly on abuse. Thank you for your refelections.


Teresa Thanks, Gia. While the main focus is on abuse, being that it is Morrison, it is not surprising that there is more to it than 'just' that.


Yolonda She wants each of us to examine our own childhood scars, lay them down, and move on. Wow, such love for us all.


Teresa Yolonda wrote: "She wants each of us to examine our own childhood scars, lay them down, and move on. Wow, such love for us all."

Great comment, Yolonda. Yes, I want to give this book to those I know who suffer from such.


Sheryl Teresa, Your review talked me into getting excited about this book. Can't wait to read it. Thank you!!


Teresa Sheryl wrote: "Teresa, Your review talked me into getting excited about this book. Can't wait to read it. Thank you!!"

You're welcome, Sheryl. I hope you end up liking it; I found it quite powerful. And happy to see a fellow Louisianian here! :)


Sheryl I completed the book in one day- it was an easy read. I wish the book was longer :-) Definitely a Morrison book (one with imagery and leaves the reader with lots of unanswered questions :-)

Happy I read it. Thanks for your review- it piqued my interest and the book was definitely worth it.


Teresa Glad to hear it, Sheryl. I know I'll be rereading it one day.


message 13: by Nicole~ (new) - added it

Nicole~ Beautiful and honest testimonial to an author I'm ashamed to say I have yet not read. Thanks for the reminder, Teresa.


Teresa Nicole~ wrote: "Beautiful and honest testimonial to an author I'm ashamed to say I have yet not read. Thanks for the reminder, Teresa."

Thank you, Nicole~. I feel like she is an author you would like.


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