God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
A novel

74%

42 Critic Reviews

Brutality, racism and lies are relieved by moments of connection in Morrison's latest...This is a skinny, fast-moving novel filled with tragic incidents, most sketched in a few haunting sentences...A chilling oracle and a lively storyteller, Nobel winner Morrison continues the work she began 45 years ago with The Bluest Eye.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

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.
 

About Toni Morrison

See more books from this Author
TONI MORRISON is the author of ten previous novels, from The Bluest Eye (1970) to Home (2012). She has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She lives in New York.
Author Residence: Grandview-on-Hudson, NY
Author Hometown: Lorain, OH
 
Published April 21, 2015 by Vintage. 194 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, History, War. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon9
Peak Rank on May 10 2015
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for God Help the Child
All: 42 | Positive: 33 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jan 07 2015

Brutality, racism and lies are relieved by moments of connection in Morrison's latest...This is a skinny, fast-moving novel filled with tragic incidents, most sketched in a few haunting sentences...A chilling oracle and a lively storyteller, Nobel winner Morrison continues the work she began 45 years ago with The Bluest Eye.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Dec 19 2014

This haunting novel displays a profound understanding of American culture and an unwavering sense of justice and forgiveness.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Dec 19 2014

Her 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.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Apr 16 2015

One of the great themes that threads its way through Toni Morrison’s work like a haunting melody is the hold that time past exerts over time present...Writing with gathering speed and assurance...Ms. Morrison works her narrative magic, turning the Ballad of Bride and Booker into a tale that is as forceful as it is affecting...

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by KARA WALKER on Apr 13 2015

...too often we get a curt fable instead, one more interested in outrage than possibilities for empathy. Like Sweetness, Morrison doesn’t seem to want to touch Bride either — at least not tenderly. The narrative hovers, averts its eyes and sucks its teeth at the misfortunes of the characters. And like Bride, I was left hungering for warmth.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Roxane Gay on Apr 29 2015

God Help the Child is the kind of novel where you can feel the magnificence just beyond your reach. The writing and storytelling are utterly compelling, but so much is frustratingly flawed.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Bernardine Evaristo on Apr 19 2015

Morrison’s characteristically deft temporal shifts and precisely honed language deliver literary riches galore. And while this novel is very readable, the pleasure is in working for its deeper rewards.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Ariel Balter on Apr 21 2015

God help the Child explores, through multiple voices, how children can be damaged by abuse, racism, abandonment, insult, cruelty, neglect, and lack of love...Like all of Toni Morrison’s novels, God Help the Child is beautifully written and structured. The language is lyrical and lush.

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Saeed Jones on Apr 22 2015

The idea of Toni Morrison will survive Morrison herself. And with both gratitude and a bit of dread, God Help The Child reads like Morrison is weaning us.

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Star Tribune

Below average
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on Apr 17 2015

All of this is worthy enough, the stuff of which great novels might be — and has been — made, by Morrison herself, but here it seems cursory, a slapdash admixture of plot and explanation with the occasional redeeming image or burst of inspired language.

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Star Tribune

Below average
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on Apr 17 2015

All of this is worthy enough, the stuff of which great novels might be — and has been — made, by Morrison herself, but here it seems cursory, a slapdash admixture of plot and explanation with the occasional redeeming image or burst of inspired language.

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Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by Sukhdev Sandhu on Apr 17 2015

Less than 200 pages in length, God Help the Child is a slim but far from lean or tersely edited book. Important characters are under-developed or portrayed in the broadest of brushstrokes...Its forays into chick-lit territory feel half-baked. At best a camp calabash...

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Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Claire Hopley on Apr 30 2015

“God Help the Child” is not then a punchy heavyweight novel like those that have won Toni Morrison so many prizes, including the Nobel. It’s an admirable smaller tale with tricky ambiguities that raise challenging ruminations rather than awe — yet for sure it’s one of this year’s don’t-miss novels.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on Apr 23 2015

Fans and newcomers alike will be forced to think about newspaper headlines screaming about abused children in a new light. The horror that these girls and boys suffer will feel more real after reading this masterpiece of a novel.

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LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by David L. Ulin on Apr 23 2015

In those novels, magic works as myth, as context, deepens the humanity. Not so with "God Save the Child," where it serves as little more than a distraction, a reminder of what's missing, of everything the book resists.

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Globe and Mail

Above average
Reviewed by Randy Boyagoda on Apr 24 2015

...it will surely break your heart and, in spite of the rest of the book, remind you of just why Toni Morrison has long been regarded as one of America’s greatest novelists.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Susan Elkin on Apr 18 2015

At other times she gives Sweetness, Bride, Brooklyn, Sofia and others a very clear voice of their own. In less experienced hands it might be clumsy. Here it comes off beautifully, like a Picasso painting telling a story in a multi-dimensional series of superimposed snapshots as each character becomes ever more rounded and complete.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by RAZIA IQBAL on Apr 09 2015

I've always read Morrsion, not just for her skill as a wordsmith, and her ability to enrich and nourish my life through her storytelling, but because I know she has, at her core, a bigger project in mind with her art...

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The Telegraph

Above average
Reviewed by Leo Robson on Apr 17 2015

Morrison tries to ward off a fairytale ending by threatening Bride’s rainbow with yet more storm clouds, but it’s a half-hearted gesture, at odds with the novel’s prevailing message that trauma can be overcome, scars can mutate into beauty spots, life can be remade.

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Christian Science Monitor

Good
Reviewed by Donna Rifkind on May 04 2015

"God Help the Child" is clearly and forcefully the effort of a writer impatient to cast off every superfluity to expose the rage and sadness at its heart.

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Booklist Online

Good
Reviewed by Brad Hooper on Feb 15 2015

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.

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The Boston Globe

Good
Reviewed by Thrity Umrigar on Apr 18 2015

Much like 2012’s “Home,” Toni Morrison’s new novel, “God Help the Child,” is a slim, modest work that still manages to pack an emotional wallop.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Arlene Mckanic on May 05 2015

Though this will likely be considered a minor work from one of our greatest novelists, God Help the Child is gracefully written and full of surprises.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Good
Reviewed by Deesha Philyaw on Apr 19 2015

“God Help the Child,” like Ms. Morrison’s previous novels, is 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.

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Oregon Live

Below average
Reviewed by John Strawn on Apr 28 2015

No writer has done more to elucidate the psychic scaffolding the long history of racism erected in America than Toni Morrison, but this novel seems uncertain of its purposes.

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Tampa Bay Times

Good
Reviewed by Colette Bancroft on Apr 15 2015

God Help the Child does, come to think of it, have something of a fairy tale ending — hard-earned, provisional, fragile as smoke, but even in the wise and ruthless eyes of Toni Morrison, real.

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The Columbus Dispatch

Below average
Reviewed by Margaret Quamme on Apr 26 2015

Because the characters are so underdeveloped, it’s hard to see them as much more than victims. Fans of Morrison should stick with her earlier work.

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Newsday

Good
Reviewed by Karen R. Long on Apr 16 2015

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."

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The Miami Herald

Good
Reviewed by Ellen Kanner on Apr 24 2015

Childhood is anything but innocent in God Help the Child and there are no fairy-tale castles. We do not read Morrison for that. We do read her for the fullness of story, and long for that here as Lula Ann longs for her mother’s love.

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St. Louis Today

Good
Reviewed by Steve Giegerich on Apr 21 2015

A Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Morrison — like Bride — is still reinventing herself as a writer. And just getting better.

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BuffaloNews.com

Good
Reviewed by Karen Brady on Apr 26 2015

Her latest book – most akin perhaps to her classic 1970 novel “The Bluest Eye” – can be read on many levels.

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South China Morning Post

Above average
Reviewed by James Kidd on May 02 2015

The problem that Morrison raises without exploring fully is what this disjunction adds up to. Some of the strain is present from the start of Bride's story, which feels sketched to the point of stage directions...God Help the Child is a strange, absorbing but oddly elusive novel.

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The Atlantic

Good
Reviewed by Walton Muyumba on Apr 23 2015

Few writers, regardless of gender, can address the vagaries of black masculinity as sensitively, insightfully, and elegantly as Morrison.

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Newcity Lit

Excellent
on Apr 24 2015

Writing of contemporary times is an absolute first for Morrison. In her hands, the present feels as immediate, sensual, complicated and wondrous as any historical period she’s taken readers through for the last forty-five years of her magnificent career.

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The Christian Century

Above average
Reviewed by Amy Frykholm on Apr 14 2015

In God Help the Child the markers of classic Toni Mor­rison are here...All of this adds up to a rich, if odd, meditation on national identity...

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San Jose Mercury News

Good
Reviewed by Chris Vognar on May 01 2015

Morrison has always had the command to render the most horrific scenes with uncompromising splendor. To her, it's all part of life and death.

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Feministing

Above average
Reviewed by SAM HUBER on May 05 2015

But though individual monologues may fall flat, all of Morrison’s psychological insight is at work in the ever-elaborating relationships between her speakers...

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Jun 11 2015

It seems ungracious to raise these concerns, given the well told tale Morrison has in fact left us. Certainly it would be foolish to complain that Morrison has not produced a more in-depth study of social realism when she has done yeoman service in creating what is in fact a modern day romance.

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She Knows

Above average
Reviewed by Sara Dobie Bauer on Apr 21 2015

Told through various perspectives, what begins as a realistic, beautifully written novel takes a turn toward the mystical...

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Nomad Reader

Above average
on Apr 28 2015

There are moments of brilliance and startling clarity in this novel, but too often things were uneven. Morrison makes strong points, but the characters and events read like a fable more often than not.

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http://flavorwire.com

Good
Reviewed by Jonathon Sturgeon on Apr 16 2015

Written as a series of detonations, Morrison’s new novel has no intention of grandmothering you into a comfortable world. Underwritten by the stuff of contemporary American life: in the end, even its title explodes.

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Schleicher Spin

Above average
Reviewed by David H. Schleicher on May 03 2015

For all of its child-abuse clichés and rehashing of themes, God Help the Child, much like Bride, is a living thing of dark, troubling, mysterious beauty, marred both by Sweetness and Spite.

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Reader Rating for God Help the Child
75%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 981 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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