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.
Praise for Toni Morrison's
GOD HELP THE CHILD
"Utterly compelling . . . Morrison remains an incredibly powerful writer who commands attention."
-Roxane Gay, The Guardian
"God Save the Child is superb, its story gliding along the tracks of Morrison's utterly assured prose."
-Charles Finch, USA Today (critic's pick)
"Morrison is such a masterful writer that even those who don't prefer stream of conscious novels may find them sucked into these minds, turning page after page of this short novel until they've finished the book in one sitting."
-Sarah Hutchins, Portland Book Review
"Toni Morrison [is] still breaking new literary ground . . . a readable and entrancing novel that rivals her earlier work in its powerful range of effects . . . This novel is worth reading on the strength of Morrison's narrative talents alone. But it also makes an inviting introduction to her entire body of work. 'God Help the Child' finds this American legend still breaking new ground and, as always, delivering an uncompromising and memorable novel."
-Jack Pender, Waterloo Region Record
"A wrenching tale."
"Morrison possesses enough generosity of spirit to see a few glimmering moments of genuine hope amid the ruin, along with the intellectual heft needed to understand their context, and the graciousness to share them with us."
-Andrew Ervin, Philadelphia Inquirer
"The prose is lean, uncluttered. Morrison's novelistic architectures have always been exceptionally well-designed; she crafts the vessels, carefully and uniquely to each story, before pouring in the water, and God Help the Child is no exception."
-Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[Morrison's] powers are proudly on display in God Help the Child. At its best, this new novel demonstrates that the author is, as she suggested recently in a New York Times Magazine profile, fully capable of writing novels forever."
"A searing, lyrical story . . . Even Morrison's minor characters are complex, intriguing people deserving of closer inspection, and as Bride's journey acquires a momentum of its own, the magnetism of her troubles pulls the reader along . . . Beautifully composed in a variety of distinct voices and covering a range of family concerns, God Help the Child employs a hint of magical realism and explores issues of race and women's lives familiar to fans of Morrison's fiction. The story of Bride's life and trials is sensual, both delicate and strong, poetic and heavy with sex, love and pain, exemplifying a revered author's unfailing talent.
"With 'God Help Help the Child,' Morrison gives us an unflinching look at the wounds that adults can inflict on children with life-altering consequences . . . By the final page, 'God Help the Child' reminds us that few authors can deliver exquisitely written prose as Morrison."
-Patrik Bass, Essence.com
"A slim, modest work that still manages to pack an emotional wallop."
"Another unflinching, gorgeously written story."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"Every page contains at least one passage of breathtaking prose, a lyrical flow accentuated by stark imagery and laden with poetic contrasts."
-Dallas Morning News
"Morrison has a Shakespearean sense of tragedy, and that gift imbues God Help the Child. The ending is exquisite, bringing to mind Gwendolyn Brooks' wonderful lines: 'Art hurts. Art urges voyages -- and it is easier to stay at home.'"
"A book to be read twice at a minimum - the first time for the story, and the second time to savor the language, the gems of phrasing and the uncomfortable revelations about the human capacity both to love and destroy."
"Succinct but beautiful, with a powerful message that will reach readers of all demographics, because frankly, we all have things in our pasts we'd like to change. The power is not in time travel; the power is in realizing we must move on and push forward to succe
Toni Morrison is the author of eleven novels, from
The Bluest Eye (1970) to
God Help the Child (2015). She received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and in 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She died in 2019.