Publisher: Penguin Books
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Children are such impressionable little things. They struggle to get their parents’ approval, do everything to make their parents realize that they are the best they could have. The extent they go to to get a pat on their back or a ‘Great going kiddo!’ is often amusing to watch. I strongly believe that a kid is what he/she is raised as, the values and principles that are instilled in them by their surrounding influences – parents, relatives, neighbors, playmates, books, TV etc. And if any of these influences take a bad turn, it not only affects the kid’s choices but all those surrounding the kid as well. It is in this manner, Bride aka Lula Ann ends up choosing to do something so despicable to gain her mother’s acceptance that it will haunt her for all her life.
In ‘God help the Child’, Toni Morrison tells the story of Bride aka Lula Ann, who has risen in life from being a familial and social stigma to a successful executive in a cosmetic company and the choices she makes in the course of her life. To gain her mother’s approval, Bride tells a lie that leads to the imprisonment of an innocent woman. Ever since then, she has been haunted by this though she doesn’t have a hard time trying to forget it. But at one point, she begins to truly regret her choice and decides to help the convicted woman that leads her to a series of consequent events that changes her life.
Generously spattered with mildly horrifying social issues like Child abuse, Racial discrimination and Serial killers, the plot is made rather severe. Though narrated from many point of views, we hardly get much insights into most of the characters. I founder Booker’s narrative more interesting than that of the protagonist’s. Morrison succinctly develops his character – an intelligent yet un-directed young man still anguished by his brother’s death that happened decades ago. While some characters seem completely unnecessary, some characters get less of an appearance than what they truly deserve. Yet, beneath all these flaws, you do see that award winning writing that sparkles with lines like “No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the mind always knows truth and wants clarity.”
Not many can tell a crisp story in such short words like Toni Morrison but some might find this novel, for the lack of a better word, abrupt.