Title: God Help the Child
Author: Toni Morrison
Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 178
TW: Racism, Colorism, Emotional Abuse, Child Rape/Torture/Murder
I know this is one of Toni Morrison’s lesser-known works, but I really liked it. It’s a really dark story (like all her work) about racism, colorism, and intergenerational trauma. Sweetness mistreats her dark-skinned daughter Lula Ann, who renames herself Bride and becomes a make-up mogul. Bride is in love with a troubled man named Booker, traumatized by the murder of his brother by a serial killer. Their relationship goes down the tubes and Bride has to go on a difficult journey before she can make amends with him.
Even though it’s a pretty short book, God Help the Child has a lot of characters and goes into their backstories quite a bit. There’s a strong theme of child abuse (particularly child sexual abuse) and almost all the characters are affected by ‘incidents’ in their past. I liked that although none of the characters were likable, all of them were complex and felt like real human beings.
Sweetness is a horrible person but her daughter isn’t exactly great either. She definitely a product of her environment and her internalized racism is heartbreaking. The flow of the plotline is strange and the ending is a little abrupt, but it’s the kind of nuanced and psychologically wrenching work I’ve come to expect from this author.