Tag Archives: Toni Morrison

Review: God Help The Child

God Help the Child

God Help the Child
By Toni Morrison
Vintage, Paperback, 9780307740922, January 2016, 192pp.

The Short of It:

What you say to a child, whether good or bad, affects them long into adulthood.

The Rest of It:

A baby born with blue-black skin is raised by her mother, Sweetness, who can easily pass for white. The difference in skin color is a constant burden to Sweetness, who takes it upon herself to “toughen” the girl up. Perhaps, to save her from future hurt.

As the girl grows into a young woman, she assumes the name Bride and reinvents herself; embracing the skin color she’s been given. But the events of the past and the lack of affection she received as a child carry into her other relationships. Her boyfriend leaves her without any explanation, her friend sits in the wings waiting for the perfect opportunity to take over her business, and the relationship with her mother continues to test the boundaries of what a mother-daughter relationship should be.

God Help the Child is both the title of this book and Morrison’s plea to the reader. Her message is clear. What you say and you do to children leaves a mark and all of the characters in this book are examples of this. Although it’s a short read, I never felt as if it was too short or underdeveloped. Some of the members of my book club did feel that it was somewhat abbreviated in the telling but there was still plenty to discuss.

Of course, the writing is lovely. There were some passages that I just read over and over again because they were so beautifully written. For a book club read, you really can’t go wrong with Morrison.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: A Mercy

A Mercy
Toni Morrison
Pub. Date: November 2008
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Format: Compact Disc
ISBN-13: 9780739332542
ISBN: 0739332546
Edition Description: Unabridged, 4 CDs

The blurb from the publisher:

In the 1680s the slave trade was still in its infancy. In the Americas, virulent religious and class divisions, prejudice and oppression were rife, providing the fertile soil in which slavery and race hatred were planted and took root.

Jacob is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh north. Despite his distaste for dealing in “flesh,” he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, “with the hands of a slave and the feet of a Portuguese lady.” Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master’s house, but later from a handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved.

There are other voices: Lina, whose tribe was decimated by smallpox; their mistress, Rebekka, herself a victim of religious intolerance back in England; Sorrow, a strange girl who’s spent her early years at sea; and finally the devastating voice of Florens’ mother. These are all men and women inventing themselves in the wilderness.

The Short of It:

Read by the author, this is a mesmerizing story of love, betrayal and pain.

The Rest of It:

I’ve read a few of Morrison’s books and I always have trouble with them. For me, the words lack a certain rhythm and I find myself re-reading pages that I’ve just read. I never understood the draw. That said, my book group chose A Mercy for October’s discussion and I was sort of dreading it and looking forward to it at the same time.

For one, it’s been years since I’ve read one of her books. Perhaps I’ve grown as a reader. Perhaps my experience this time will be different. I promptly went out and got the book, read a chapter or two and then stopped. Nope, still the same. Still haltingly strange for me. So then I ordered the book on audio. It’s read by Toni Morrison and I figured that if it didn’t strike a chord with me, and she was reading it as it was meant to be heard, then I would give up on Morrison altogether.

I’m happy to report that I loved it! Morrison’s voice is melodic at times but definitely has a certain cadence to it. That haltingly strange way of speaking that I mentioned in the book form, is present in her speech patterns, but hearing her voice brought it all together for me. I then went back to the book and had no problems reading it. Have you ever done that?

After smoothing all this out, I settled into the story and found it to be haunting at times, yet the strength of these women amazed me. There is a wonderful interview with the author at the end of the audio book which should not be missed. Now that I’ve had this experience, I plan to re-read some of her other books.

Have you ever had a hard time reading a famous author and then wondered what all the fuss was about? Have you ever resorted to the audio book to see if it was different in some way?