"God Help the Child" by Toni Morrison
Bride is a stunning woman, a woman with blue-black skin always dressed in white. Everywhere she goes she turns heads. Everyone is amazed by her beauty and her confidence. But her looks haven’t always been a source of pride in her life. Bride’s light-skinned mother saw her dark skin as a detriment and because of this, she withheld her love and any affection from her. So when she was a child, in order to earn her mothers love, Bride told a lie that ruined an innocent woman.
Booker is the man that Bride loves, but he has walked out on their relationship. There is an anger that he can’t shake and a decision that Bride has made it even worse. As an adult, he continues to deal with the trauma of the murder of his brother when they were children. When Bride goes looking for Booker, trying to get answers about the end of their relationship, they are both forced to face the lingering effects of their childhood and how much has been carried into their adult lives.
God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison, is a deeply moving novel about the way a person’s childhood shapes their adult life.
This is the part where I shamefully admit that I really haven’t read much by Toni Morrison, in fact this is only the second novel of hers that I have read. The first novel of hers that I read, Home, was good but not spectacular in my opinion. But this book, this one makes me want to run out and read everything else she has written.
This book broke my heart. I can’t pretend to understand the complexities of race that led to Bride’s mother treating her the way she did, but I have enough experience in my own life with this issue to know that it is something people deal with every day and that leaves lasting effects. Anyone who writes a review dismissing this shouldn’t be writing about books.
This is a small novel that packs a big punch. We don’t know what people are carrying with them through their lives and the relationship between Bride and Booker, the reasons why their relationship failed, prove this. Morrison doesn’t need to go in depth about what happened, she doesn’t need to get descriptive as to the abuse that Bride suffered at the hands of her mother because her writing is so beautiful and strong. She paints a picture with her words rather than handing you what you need.
Raising children is a hard job. Too often, we place our fears or our experiences on our children unnecessarily. Morrison shows us in this book just how deep this wounds. My heart just ached through this whole book, which is a testament to the writing.
Home may have made me wonder if I was missing something but God Help the Child has shown me why Morrison is a Nobel Prize winner and why I must read every word she has written.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada. The opinions expressed above are my own.