God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison is her latest novel and the first (I believe) to be set in the current time period. The story opens with the birth of the main character, Lula Ann Bridewell, who later becomes just “Bride.” She is a blue-black baby with odd eyes and even odder hair texture. She’s such an aberration that her father leaves and her mother seemingly goes into hiding to protect her from the cold harsh world. A landlord finally rents them a place, but charges extra for his troubles. Morrison then reveals that it is the nineties, oh the 1890s, no it’s the 1990s. The story picks up twenty plus years later and Lula Ann is now a successful cosmetic exec who has learned to embrace her blackness by wearing only white clothing, and calling herself Bride. Although society loves her she struggles with her mother/daughter issues, which tend to hinder her adult relationships.
What should have been a beautiful love story between Bride and her lover Booker, gets muddled in several storylines that simply were not interwoven well enough to make the story flow, inevitably causing them to seem random and out of place. I wish Morrison would give us a novel that is not mired in sexual abuse, child molestation, colorism and the ever-disappearing black man, but this would not be the case. A complex love affair becomes the side-story to a child-molestation case that had an eerie resemblance to the McMartin Pre-School scandal of the nineties, and the Atlanta child murders of the late seventies, early eighties. I understood where she was trying to go using these as the backdrops for the characters backstory, the execution just wasn’t there. The book, at 178 pages, seemed rushed and underdeveloped with various characters speaking from their own perspective, but not strong or in-depth enough to tie it all together or show relevance to the plot.
I am a huge fan of Ms. Morrison’s work, but this one just didn’t capture my heart. Bride and Booker are two multifaceted characters and their story deserved so much more. I had very high expectations for God Help the Child , but it simply fell flat for me. My final rating is 3 stars.
Peace & Blessings,
Tracy L. Darity
View all my reviews