Author: Toni Morrison
Title: God Help the Child
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Random House
Number of Pages: 192
Narrator: Sweetness, Bride, Etc.
Quality Rating: 80.52
What’s It About?
Sweetness is a light-skinned black woman married to a light-skinned black man. They’re so light-skinned that they can pass as whites, and they live in such a time that it is beneficial to do so. Everything is going perfectly in their relationship until Sweetness gives birth to a baby girl who has extremely dark skin. Embarrassed, her husband leaves her to raise the girl on her own.
As the little girl grows, she feels the constant contempt of her mother. When she is six years old, she falsely accuses a woman of child molestation and sends her to prison for fifteen years–simply because she wants to gain her mother’s approval. The moment she reaches adulthood, Bride–as she comes to call herself–abruptly leaves the mother by whom she’s always felt scorned.
As an adult, Bride has become incredibly successful as an entrepreneur in the beauty industry. She is in a serious relationship with a man whose past demons make it difficult for him to commit. When the man suddenly leaves her, Bride begins to investigate how her mother’s abuse has shaped her own disposition in life. As the story unfolds, child abuse is explored in a myriad of ways through the lens of several characters.
Should You Read It?
If you enjoy the prior work of Toni Morrison, this book–though set in the modern day–carries her signature style. The story is about racism–but not really about racism. It’s really about child abuse, and Sweetness’s contempt for the color of her daughter’s skin is just one of many examples in the novel of how children are exploited, abused, and ruined by the adults they trust. If this topic is important to you, you would probably find this book very helpful in understanding the impact abuse has on children as they claw their way into adulthood.
Links and References
Author Information: Wikipedia, The Toni Morrison Society
Book Reviews: New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, LA Times
Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com
Other Books By Toni Morrison: Paradise (1997), Beloved (1987), The Bluest Eye (1970)