BookFuse Review- God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

Book Review

Rating 4/5

A powerful book portraying how abuse follows you through to adulthood.

“Bride”, as she now calls herself was formerly known as Lula Ann as a child. Born with a “blue-black” complexion, her father deserted her and separated from her mother when she was just three years old, leaving her mother to “train” her daughter on how the world will treat her. The mother, Sweetness, on account of Bride would only show the slightest amount of affection in extreme circumstances. The major circumstance being Bride sending an innocent woman to jail, resulting in her mother showing her affection by piercing her ears.

Bride grows up to become a successful career woman, wearing white clothes to highlight her complexion, focusing heavily on her body and how she looks to other people. She is more aware of herself and the attention and magnifies it, almost like a statement. She wants the world to see her and to not ignore her. Could this be a result of her mother lacking affection towards her as a child?

The beginning of the book throws you into her life with many questions to be answered. It begins with Booker, the present boyfriend leaving Bride without so much as a goodbye. Then she gets beaten up by a woman who has just been released from prison. The story is mainly based on Bride trying to find Booker to demand answers as to why he left, but Bride finds herself reminiscing constantly on her childhood and her mother.

Bride manages to find his location but on her way there, she finds herself in a car crash. A local family finds her, stuck in the car, takes her to the doctor and looks after her for 6 weeks. During her recovery with this small-town family, she begins to go through changes mentally, which only she can see. She notices her body starting to revert back to being a child, with no breasts and losing her ear-piercing holes, which was given as a reward by her mother when she convicted that woman to imprisonment.

———-

It is obvious throughout the book that Bride is trying to heal. Everything she was suffering from happened when she was a child. So it is likely Bride whilst being with this family, is reliving her childhood days to how she wanted it to be when she was a child; To be loved and comforted when ill or hurt.

Although the book is very vague with Bride’s childhood years and what she entailed, it would seem Sweetness wanted her child to grow up to be tough and strong, for her to battle racial discrimination which she may face as an adult. But she held back on the emotional stability Bride needed. Sweetness also may have had a slight resentment towards Bride as she was the reason the marriage fell apart, but again, the dynamics of Sweetness’s marriage before Lula Ann was born, is unknown.

God help the child allows us a perspective into how abuse can seriously affect a child throughout their lives. There are many accounts of child abuse within the book, which makes it a gut-wrenching story, but one that is powerful to the very end. It also highlighted the hard decisions a mother had to make at a time, where the colour of your skin was called into question.

———-

Although a short novel, God help the child has left me dumbfounded. The book has the potential to be able to develop into a longer story, or even a series, delving deeper into some of the other characters lives. This book left me reeling to learn more about Bride and her path to healing. What would happen when she has her own child? Will Booker be there? Will she be able to forgive her mother before it is too late? I felt that this story was the beginning of Bride’s path to healing.

Happy Reading

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