Margin Notes: God Help the Child

God Help the Child

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.

At the center: a young 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. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”

A fierce and provocative novel that adds a new dimension to the matchless oeuvre of Toni Morrison.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a short book, but a good one. It's concise and precise. Really well written with beautiful language. The characters were round, flawed, and honest. I felt like it gave me a glimpse into a world I'm not familiar with and one that I learned from. At the beginning of the book, I wasn't sure who I was following and the plot felt a little like it was meandering, but when it came together it made sense and made my earlier wondering about the plot all the more interesting. The last chapter really elevated this book for me and made me think about the story in a larger-implications way--the cycle of life, how mothers influence children who influence others. It turned from a small portrait of two families to a portrait of how cyclical life is. A really sad book, but a beautiful and smart one. The commentary on family is what is really sticking with me.


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