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March 20, 2017 | by  | in Books | [ssba]

God Help the Child — Toni Morrison

A blue-black baby is born to a mother who’s so scared of her she almost wants to smother her then and there. But she doesn’t, instead she raises her, alone, and makes sure that she’s disciplined, that she’s well-behaved, and knows the way the world works. To ensure, the mother thinks, that she’ll be as safe as she can keep her.

The baby, she’s called Lula Ann but renames herself Bride, grows up and makes a success of her life. She’s got a high-paying job, she’s turned out smoking hot, and she’s got a boyfriend who she doesn’t know anything about, but their sex is insane.

The boyfriend breaks up with her. Then she decides to pay a visit to a woman she knew a long time ago. A woman she helped put in jail as a child. At this point, everything begins to morph and twist and crumble through her blue-black hands. And alongside it, a kind of body horror reversion — why is she suddenly hairless like a small girl again? Why do the earring holes in her pierced ears heal up all of a sudden? What the hell is going on?

Morrison, an African-American novelist with both a Nobel Prize in Literature and Pulitzer Prize to her name, is extraordinary. She takes these thousand strands of life and weaves them together into something that’s not quite reality, not quite resolved, but very true.

Life is presented as intricately together with pain. But equally, ultimately, together with hope. God Help the Child will lead you to stare at your own skin — whichever colour. But, of course, it matters what colour in different ways, as what are the burdens we carry with us? From so long ago, from when we were children.

[ssba]

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Uncomfortable places: skin.

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