God Help the Child

July 14, 2015

When I first sat down to read this book, I was excited.  Not because I had ever read one of Toni Morrison’s books, but because of all the hype that had been given to her works alone.  Each one of the booktubers, that had mentioned any title written by Toni Morrison, gave such praise to her writings.  I own a few of her works because they were optional reads while I worked on my Bachelor’s degree in English, but I had never opted to actually read them.  Now that she had published a new book, I thought that this was the time.

In the reviews that I had heard, praise was given to her writing style, depth of dealing with social issues, and emotional impression left on the reader.  I did not know how any of this would translate into actual content of the her books.

Let first say that I am being very candid about the way that I say what I say because the content is “heavy,” for a lack of a better word…I’m sure that I could possibly find a better word, but I really want to write this review…

Topics Discussed

Child Abuse

“God Help the Child” is a book that deals with life on different levels.  Yet no matter what level we, as the reader, seem to be on at the present time, there is a quick return to the underlying issue that remains present…childhood sexual abuse.  This is not mentioned in any part of the synopsis and I wonder why…For a reader like me, who has never encountered Toni Morrison’s books before, I did not know what to expect.  I thought that there were other things that would be discussed, but this is the primary subject of the book.  It deals with the ways in which people are affected by childhood sexual abuse.  It looks at the adults that were affected by the things that happened when they were children.  Whether it happened to them or not, does not matter.

Dealing With The Past

All of this talk of abuse is wrapped in a exquisite package of a beautiful black woman and the people that she encounters.  Her “blackness” seems to come up as the reason for her experiences.  Her abusive mother opened the door the a life that was unnecessary, but nevertheless hers.  Reading this book caused me to think of the way that people see black women.  No matter what shade of black, when reading this book there is a wonder in the mind of the reader that wonders what everyone else is thinking.  I wondered what the color white really did for her black skin, a topic mentioned repeatedly in the book. Being a dark-skinned woman myself, I could relate with a few things that were mentioned, regarding her color.

Intimate Relationships

Bride, the main character, deals with issues of her past and things that she says, all while pursuing the life that she wants with a man that she ultimately perceives as a god.  He consumes her dreams.  Fantasizing about him makes her feel better and losing him changes her physically.  The love affair between the two of them, gives the story a spark of life, but it is dangerous.  Is it love, lust, anger, rage, or obsession that fuels their flame?

10 Lessons to be Learned

1. What you do to a child matters

2. Childhood sexual abuse affects everyone

3. Race, no matter how hidden, still plays a role in life

4. Your life matters

5. When others think you are weak, when you think you are weak, find your strength

6. Fear will try to dim the light of love

7. Don’t lie, it will haunt you.

8. Sex is not the answer

9. Death comes unexpectantly

10. There is a light at the end of the tunnel

My Thoughts

If I had known the type of content that I would be reading in this book. I would not have read it for multiple reasons.

This is a book that not only deals with life from a worldview, not similar to my own.  The general perspective of the text is not from a Christian perspective. It glorifies things that, I as a Christian woman, find demoralizing. These things are sexual in nature, prideful in attitude, and godless in action. Although God is mentioned in the title of the book, He is not mentioned or alluded to at any other time. In fact, the male in the book, which is the object of the main character’s affections, is giving the place of an idol in her life.

The visuals of sexual content toward minors, was more that I wanted to read. It is something that lead me to pray for the abused, but also caused me to despise ever having an image of in my mind.

I do not recommend this book for those reading from a Chrisitan worldview. However, for literary purposes, this text could be used as a way of looking at the affects of abuse, in various forms, upon the mind of an individual and that these actions might follow the abuse as a result of the impression that has been made on the abuses mind.

I do not encourage any of the actions or thought patterns found within this book.

This is my review from a Christian Literary Worldview/Perspective.

(Please see the wrap-up below for a list of the pros and cons of this book)

God Help the Child Book Cover God Help the Child
Toni Morrison
Adult Fiction
Knopf
April 21, 2015
Kindle Edition
178
Amazon

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.
From the Hardcover edition.

Wrap Up

God Help the Child

  • 7.5/10
    Content
  • 2.5/10
    Language/Sexual Content
  • 2/10
    Christian Worldview
  • 6/10
    Readability
  • 2.5/10
    Recommendable

Pros

  • Overall Story
  • Eloquent Language
  • Vivid Imagery
  • Compelling Characters
  • Heartfelt Message

Cons

  • Fowl Language
  • Child Abuse
  • Graphic Sexual Imagery
  • Unethical Cohabitation
  • Praise of Ungodly Lifestyle

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