God Help the Child
Booklist Reviews 2015 February #2
This novel is brief for Morrison—brief for most any major novelist. There is a lot of foundational information for readers to quickly learn in the opening pages. Brevity for Morrison doesn't mean cutting out lots of plot development and character presentation. It means that the usual amount of that kind of elaboration is condensed in fewer pages than what would be expected. So there is no wading into the story and gathering at a measured pace all the important clues about people and events that the reader ordinarily has time to absorb and process. The theme can be gleaned from the title. This is a novel about how psychological damage in childhood influences the way an adult leads his or her life. Four voices, four characters—the primary one being Bride, born so dark-skinned that her light-skinned mother was loathe to even touch her—give solo articulation to their hurts when young and the consequent dented versions of their adult selves. Now, the strength of the novel—and it does indeed gain compelling strength—is that it becomes a swirl of deep emotions, sucking the reader in, which is good, because the point of the novel is to empathize as deeply as possible with what these characters experience.High-Demand Backstory: A new Morrison novel? Stock up. Enough said. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2014 December #1
"What you do to children matters. And they might never forget." That's the lesson finally learned by light-skinned Sweetness, who rejects her daughter Bride because of her blue-black skin. That luminous skin leads Bride to triumph and makes her mother tell devastating lies. Also in Bride's orbit: angry Booker, loved and lost by Bride, and a white girl named Rain, who seeks comfort from Bride after suffering abuse by her prostitute mother. Another dazzler from Nobel laureate Morrison; with a 200,000-copy first printing.[Page 66]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2015 March #2
In her latest book, Nobel laureate Morrison shows us how we hold onto our pain and let it define us, pulling back on her often liquidly lyric style to offer powerful portraits in lean prose. Sweetness, who is from a family whose members can pass for white, gives birth to the midnight-black Lula Ann and raises her at an ashamed and bitter distance, which she rationalizes will toughen her up. As a child, Lula Ann gains some favor from her mother by helping to put away a teacher named Sofia, who is accused of sexually abusing her charges. As an adult who renames herself Bride, Lula Ann becomes a successful, traffic-stoppingly beautiful career woman. But her life starts falling apart when she meets with a just-paroled Sofia. Then Booker, with whom she's been conducting a passionate affair, leaves without explanation. Serious-minded Booker cannot leave behind a terrible family tragedy, and as Bride pursues him for answers to his abandonment, they are both transformed in more ways than one. VERDICT There are some moves here that may seem obvious, but the pieces all fit together seamlessly in a story about beating back the past, confronting the present, and understanding one's worth. [See Prepub Alert, 11/17/14.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal[Page 94]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.