- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; First edition (April 21, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307594173
- ISBN-13: 978-0307594174
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 863 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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God Help the Child: A novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 21, 2015
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An Amazon Best Book of April 2015: “What you do to children matters…” This foreboding phrase informs the latest masterful novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. The story, at its heart, is about the devastating consequences of a light-skinned mother who rejects her dark-skinned child. Bride, the daughter, goes on to become a successful cosmetics mogul, but that success doesn’t translate to her personal life--Her inability to heal from childhood wounds stunts (even literally) her growth. Anyone familiar with Morrison’s oeuvre knows that she isn’t shy about lingering uncomfortably long in the bleakest of places, and at times the weight of this slender book seems almost too much to bear. But where there is darkness there is light, at least in Bride’s case, and this contrast serves to make her attempts at reshaping her destiny that much sweeter. And that is one of the most important and empowering lessons of God Help the Child--that the sins of others need not define you, that what is done to children indeed matters. But how children—so vulnerable and yet so resilient--can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles matters all the more. –Erin Kodicek
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 succeed.”
“Morrison . . . proved with God Help the Child that her writing is still as fresh, adventurous and vigorous as ever . . . Morrison’s characteristically deft temporal she fits and precisely hones language deliver literary riches galore. And which this novel is very readable, the pleasure is in working for its deeper rewards.”
“Like a Picasso painting telling a story in a multi-dimensional series of superimposed snapshot as each character becomes ever more rounded and complete.”
–Independent on Sunday
“Not for nothing has Morrison been garlanded with a Novel Prize, Pulitzer and National Book Critics Circle Award. There’s always a sense of grand occasion when Morrison releases a book, and with good reason: the journey is always vivid, dazzling and rich, each paragraph a mealy morsel in its own right. A highly personal and affecting tale that manages to be deftly political, God Help the Child is emotionally rousing and gut-wrenching.”
“True to style, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning Morrison uses simple yet poetic prose as she tackles timely issues in a timeless way.”
–Big Issue in the North
“Powerful . . . attests to her ability to write intensely felt chamber pieces that inhabit a twilight world between fable and realism, and to convey the desperate yearnings of her characters for safety and love and belonging . . . Writing with gathering speed and assurance as the book progresses, Ms. Morrison works her narrative magic, turning the Ballad of Bride and Booker into a tale that is as forceful as it is affecting, as fierce as it is resonant.”
–Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Toni Morrison is one of the gods who walk among us. A righteous, fearless teller of necessary truths . . . sensually written and commanding.”
–Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair, May 2015
“It is a beautiful thing to watch Morrison move characters through the full range of human emotion and into cathartic transformation. Here, Morrison shows us the importance of not holding on to what needs to be put down; the necessity of forgiveness, the necessity of beginning again.”
–Hope Wabuke, The Root
“Nobel laureate Morrison continues to add to her canon of eloquent, brilliantly conceived novels defining the crises and cultural shifts of our times . . . Yet another finely distilled masterpiece.”
–Jane Ciabattari, BBC
“Powerful portraits in lean prose . . . . The pieces all fit together seamlessly in a story about beating back the past, confronting the present, and understanding one’s worth.”
–Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal, (starred review)
“Sly, savage, honest, and elegant . . . . Morrison spikes elements of realism and hyperrealism with magic and mayhem, while sustaining a sexily poetic and intoxicating narrative atmosphere . . . . Once again, Morrison thrillingly brings the storytelling moxie and mojo that make her, arguably, our greatest living novelist.”
–Lisa Shea, ELLE Magazine
“A chilling oracle and a lively storyteller, Nobel winner Morrison continues the work she began 45 years ago with The Bluest Eye.”
–Kirkus (Starred Review)
“Another dazzler from Nobel laureate Morrison.”
–Barbara Hoffert’s Fiction Picks, Library Journal
“Emotionally-wrenching . . . [Morrison’s] literary craftsmanship endures with sparse language, precise imagery, and even humor. This haunting novel displays a profound understanding of American culture and an unwavering sense of justice and forgiveness.”
–Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Top customer reviews
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This is very different from Toni Morrison's other books. It is said to take place in today's world, but some of the characters aren't living in today's world for several different reasons.
The more I read, the more I fell in love with the characters. At the end, I was really rooting for Booker, who we don't even know by name until the last two thirds of the book. Everyone is redeemed and despite mortal wounds to the characters' hearts and souls, we are left believing in the power of speaking our truth and trusting in people's abilities to see our goodness.
Toni Morrison has done it again!
In a sparkling interview on NPR she states: "Distinguishing color — light, black, in between — as the marker for race is really an error: It's socially constructed, it's culturally enforced and it has some advantages for certain people," she says. "But this is really skin privilege — the ranking of color in terms of its closeness to white people or white-skinned people and its devaluation according to how dark one is and the impact that has on people who are dedicated to the privileges of certain levels of skin color."
I have read quite a few reviews of God Help the Child and found them mostly disappointing. I was so distressed with less than mature renderings that I needed to read for myself, and respond from my perspective as a passionate reader, author, and socially conscious observer.
Morrison sees the core issue as color - not race but the incredible weight given to the depth or lack thereof of skin color, particularly applied to Bride, the successful, gorgeous, scarred young woman whose mother was so ashamed of her blue-black skin color that she would not touch her child, even hid her. The mother, "Sweetheart," blames society, blames the child, and takes no responsibility for helping her child. She even barters her child's false testimony against a teacher in exchange for a touch and a few kind words.
I see this powerful novel as a reminder of the deadly nature of lies, betrayals, secrets, and childhood trauma buried, untreated. If it sems that every adult in the novel is a pervert, that is the point. For a frightened child, this can become a way to clear out one's personal life, a protective shield. Booker, the guy friend who is Bride's true love, runs away from suffering, won't tell his own horrific story, and leaves Bride to travel, talk to peope, read his powerful poetry, in order to understand what the man cannot bring himself to say or admit.
I refrain from comparing one of Morrison's excellent works to another, but I am convinced that God Help the Child is a novel for our time, for our history, and for our future. And it rings true. It rings true.
Most recent customer reviews
As well as the readers. I felt sympathy for the character's.Read more