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.
Lula Ann Bridewell, nick-named Bride, becomes the central focus of Toni Morrison’s eleventh book God Help the Child. Bride remains deeply scarred by her childhood experiences of rejection and hurt, especially meted out by her mother Sweetness; who realizes, although much later on, that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”
“I sold my elegant blackness to all those childhood ghosts and now they pay me for it.”
― Toni Morrison,
God Help the Child is quite confrontational in terms of the message Morrison successfully brings across. The damaging effects of childhood and the obligation to behave in certain ways due to racial prejudices are the eye-opening themes that dominate the story.
“A book to be read twice at a minimum — the first time for the story, and the second time to savor the language, the gems of phrasing and the uncomfortable revelations about the human capacity both to love and destroy.”
A much older Bride is described as a stunning woman with blue-black skin who turns heads wherever she goes. Apart from the incredible success she has earned through the years, the reader cannot help but realize that she is but wistfully broken.
This best-selling oeuvre is bound to captivate millions with Morrison’s impressive use of reliable characters and unmasked social issues that form the backbone of this novel. The other characters include Booker, the man Bride loves but loses due to insecurity and vexation; Rain, an aspiring young girl that Bride crosses paths with; and Sweetness, Bride’s mother, a product of a society plagued with racial intolerance and bigotry.
“Like a Picasso painting telling a story in a multi-dimensional series of superimposed snapshot as each character becomes ever more rounded and complete.”
—Independent on Sunday