GOD HELP THE CHILD
Alfred K. Knopf
Ms. Hen is a huge Toni Morrison fan. Everything Ms. Hen has read by Morrison has dazzled her. Toni Morrison seems to Ms. Hen to be a fearless writer: one who is not afraid to go to the dark and dirty places that consist our world, but at the same time, she brings out beauty in each novel she writes.
GOD BLESS THE CHILD could be the best novel that Ms. Hen has read by Ms. Morrison. She was inspired to read this because she attended one of the Norton Lectures at Harvard University delivered by Ms. Morrison. She got her ticket at twelve noon that day, and waited in Cambridge to see and hear the master.
Ms. Morrison said many things during her lecture, one was that at the age of eighty-five she is thinking and writing better than she ever has in her life. This gives Ms. Hen hopes for her future as a writer. Ms. Morrison also joked that she was going to run for president.
GOD BLESS THE CHILD is a story of a young woman named Bride, who never receives love from her mother because she was born with dark skin, almost blue-black skin, but both her parents are light skinned. Her mother is disgusted by Bride, and her father leaves her mother because he thought she had been with another man.
This novel is the only one of Morrison’s set in the present day. Bride works for a cosmetics company, and she gets beaten up because she tries to give a woman from her past money when that woman gets out of jail. Her friend and coworker, Brooklyn, helps her recover. Bride makes mistakes and gets in trouble for them over and over. She doesn’t have a filter that most people do to figure out what is right and what is wrong. She is a complicated character, but the reader grows to love her and want the best for her because all Bride wants is love.
The aspect of this novel that Ms. Hen found strikingly different from any other novel by Toni Morrison is the darkness and depravity that comes page after page. The child molestations, the murders, the wretchedness flows like a fountain throughout the novel. Ms. Hen enjoyed this, and she thinks that Morrison is stretching as she gets older, becoming braver as a writer and a philosopher.
But even though GOD BLESS THE CHILD is full of depravity, there is hope that grows within the story. Throughout the turmoil of the character’s lives, they have a future, and Ms. Hen was happy with this because it makes her realize that someone could have horrific experiences, and recover and simply continue living. Nobody’s life is ever perfect, but we have to work with what we have, and try to do the best we can.
Seeing Toni Morrison at Harvard was a once in a lifetime experience for Ms. Hen, even though she could go again, but she doesn’t think she can make it the next few times. There are six lectures in the series, the last are Monday April 11 and Tuesday the 12th at the Sanders Theater in Cambridge. Tickets are available at twelve noon on the day of the lecture, and it starts at four, but the doors open at 3:15. It’s worth it to hear someone who is considered to be one of the greatest American living writers.
Ms. Hen loved GOD HELP THE CHILD, though it was heartbreaking, it was also uplifting. Darkness exists in the world, but so does love. And sometimes to get to the other side, we have to bear the darkness.