READING

Book Review: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

Book Review: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

Growing up I wanted to be Toni Morrison.

Oh hell I thought. There goes another party I am late to. This quote is  tucked in one of the chapters of the book Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  She went on raving about Toni’s literary prowess that only left me feeling inadequate for not having read any of her works. While Shonda’s obvious admiration was not intended to raise my insecurities about my reading portfolio, it did. The only option was to get a copy for myself and see what the Pulitzer winner, for her book Beloved had to teach a hungry writer like me.

God Help The Child

How many times have you wanted to change your life story? Needed a do-over to go back and get something right? Quiet a long the list I can imagine. Well life offers no do overs and one has to go with the hand they are dealt with.

Lulu Ann ‘Bride’ is a black child born to a mixed mother at a time when being black was a taboo. Reading that in the first chapter raised doubt for the rest of the book. Another book on racism and I have not yet recovered from my second read of To Kill A Mocking Bird.  However Bride’s hostility is as much at home as it is outside the confines of the insecure abode. She fights for attention from a mother who too, is fighting her own childhood demons. Desperate for love and touch she pushes the buttons, one a mite too far, that she will eventually pay for. She tries to find redemption in an act of kindness that precedes a series of bad luck, wrong paths that lead her to where she needs to be. The cure of it all is love.

She loves him despite his childhood demons. His too surreal as he cannot suppress them under a happy demeanor mastered over years of running as she has. While there is short-lived bliss between them in which they  mask their pain and fears with mystery and undying love, something will give. It does. Bride has a choice to fight for what she wants or continue with the façade that is her life.  In the end she discovers that everybody is a hurt child who needs healing.

Toni Morrison has a beautiful way of weaving different voices with only a few narrated interjections. The different characters adopt their own voices in your head. Despite her addressing traumas that can be found in everyday headlines, only she can make them as tangible as she does in this book. Her children characters (later adults) fight so hard for their happiness. They lose their young oblivious euphoria only found in a child, to beasts and pests. You will get angry with some of it as you desperate hope for a good ending for one of the children. While it is not all rosy in the final chapters, it ends as it should.

God does help a child after all. Each at a different time and in their own special way. Face your demons to uncover your happiness.


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