God Help the Child

God Help the Child

by Toni Morrison


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307594174
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/21/2015
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the 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.


Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan

Date of Birth:

February 18, 1931

Place of Birth:

Lorain, Ohio


Howard University, B.A. in English, 1953; Cornell, M.A., 1955

Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from "God Help the Child"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Toni Morrison.
Excerpted by permission of Diversified Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

The questions and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of God Help the Child.

1. Morrison opens God Help the Child with a character insisting, “It’s not my fault. So you can’t blame me.” How does this set up what follows?

2. Multiple themes weave through the novel: childhood trauma, racism, skin color, social class, freedom. What would you say is the primary theme, and why?

3. Kirkus Reviews said of the book, “As in the darkest fairy tales, there will be fire and death.” In what other ways is God Help the Child like a fairy tale?

4. Over the course of an otherwise realistic novel, Bride’s body reverts from a curvy woman to an undeveloped girl. What’s going on there?

5. Several of the primary characters have different names from the ones they received at birth: Bride, Sweetness, Rain. What do these new names tell us about the characters?

6. At different points in the novel, Morrison switches from individual characters’ voices to third-person narration. How does this affect the reader’s understanding of what’s happening?

7. Why is Bride so uninterested in digging below the surface with Booker?

8. Discuss Bride’s friendship with Brooklyn. Over and over, Bride says how much she trusts Brooklyn, and what a good friend she is. What do these assertions tell us about Bride’s character? Does it matter that Brooklyn is white, with dreadlocks?

9. For as much as Sweetness hated Bride’s skin color, Bride turned it into an asset—as Jeri says on page 36, “Black sells. It’s the hottest commodity in the civilized world.” What changed from the time Bride was born until now? Have things really changed, or changed only on the surface?

10. Bride testified against Sofia to please her mother. On page 42 Sweetness recalls, “After Lula Ann’s performance in that court and on the stand I was so proud of her, we walked the streets hand in hand.” Why did Sweetness care so much about this trial?

11. On page 56, after Bride tells Booker about what she witnessed her landlord doing when she was a child, he says, “Correct what you can; learn from what you can’t. . .  No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the mind always knows truth and wants clarity.” What does he mean by that?

12. The reader’s understanding of Booker is shaped by Bride’s recollection of his saying, “You not the woman I want,” her limited insights about him, and Brooklyn’s descriptions of him as a shady character. But in Part III we learn that he’s quite different from what we’ve imagined. What point is Morrison making here?

13. Bride holds on to Booker’s shaving brush, and Sofia keeps Bride’s earring. Why are these totems important?

14. When Bride is taken in by the white hippies, she is cut off from the world for weeks. How does this change her?

15. Why does Rain form such a special bond with Bride?

16. How did Adam’s death change Booker? Why did it affect him more than the rest of his family?

17. Discuss Bride’s sojourn with Queen. How does their relationship develop so quickly?

18. Although Queen has had many children, she has no close contact with any of them. What does this tell us about her? Why is she still a sympathetic character?

19. After Bride reads Booker’s writing about her, how does it change her impression of him?

20. What does it symbolize when Booker throws his trumpet into the stream with Queen’s ashes?

21. On page 180, Morrison describes Bride and Booker’s thoughts about the future: “A child. New life. Immune to evil or illness, protected from kidnap, beatings, rape, racism, insult, hurt, self-loathing, abandonment. Error-free. All goodness. Minus wrath. So they believe.” What do those last three words mean?

22. The novel begins and ends with Sweetness. Why?

23. Nearly every main character has had a brush with child sexual abuse. What is the cumulative effect?

24. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Morrison said: “There is no such thing as race. . . . Racism is a construct, a social construct. And it has benefits. Money can be made off of it. People who don’t like themselves can feel better because of it. It can describe certain kinds of behavior that are wrong or misleading. So [racism] has a social function. But race can only be defined as a human being.” In the novel, Booker says similar things. Sweetness raised Bride the way she did because of Bride’s dark skin. How does this all tie together?

Customer Reviews

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God Help the Child 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am speechless. This book is absolutely amazing. When I say amazing, amazing. I read it cover to cover the moment that it became available.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful sadness is all over these pages, but it's a mystical type of sadness that gives you hope and does not lie to the reader about the atrocities some children have endured. This book is love, pain, hope, and life, all rolled into a gorgeously written, metaphor-filled, read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Breathtaking! I pray nobody gives away the story in their review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of course I loved this book...it's Toni Morrison. "God Help the Child" is Morrison's first novel set in contemporary times. While it centers around the character Bride, the novel tells of the impact a parent's words or actions can have on a child. Bride is describe as being rejected by her brown-skinned parents for having "blue-black" skin. Though she grows into a stunning beauty, that rejection throws her world into a tailspin that she must confront years later when a woman she'd sent to jail for 15 years is released. There are other characters whose actions and connections to Bride are all influenced by something in their childhood. The book is short, only 175 pages. But it has Morrison's classic storytelling with memorable lines and stunning imagery. She does an excellent job with the transition to contemporary, and even convincingly channels the voice of modern twenty- or thirty-year-olds. The book is not as heavy as her earlier works, but I think she's mastered the art of saying so much in so few words and making seamless transitions between scenes, that the book's brevity doesn't diminish its much deeper meaning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Toni Morrison, but $12,99 is too much for a 138 page book GOOD STORY BUT I FELT CHEATED!
bonnieCA More than 1 year ago
As usual, Toni Morrison has written an excellent story. It's haunting. The ending kind of left me up in the air but it leaves the imagination open to finish the story in one's own way. If you like Toni Morrison's books, you really need to read this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A book that is only 138 pages should not be 12.99. It was good but too short for the money . there are much better books to read than this one. Disappointing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didnt ferl this wss her best, but I still love her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I pre-ordered 2 copies of this book because I knew my mom liked the author and the book looked like it would be a good read... Had both copies sent to my parents house, and when they got there, NEITHER COPY WAS SIGNED! My parents looked everywhere, no autograph. Double checked the receipt, it says that they're supposed to be signed. I'm sure the book is good (I'm not at their house yet so I haven't had a chance to read it), but I'm pretty disappointed that I paid for signed books and I didn't get that :/
18876111 More than 1 year ago
I'm not a fan of when chapters are told from different characters points of views, I feel like books written that way can sometimes disrupt the flow of the story. With that being said I found this book extremely rich and compelling. The subject matter of the book is not something to be taken lightly. I loved how the book ended. and I'm not going to give it away. I felt that Bride's story was a little bit sad because all she wanted was to be loved and accepted by her own mother. I can't say that her mother (Sweetness) never loved her, she just never showed it in a way that she should have.
saran_123 More than 1 year ago
Good book!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started out great the ending wasn't as impressive
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Short story of the real world effects our judgments & decisions have on others, especially our children. It was an intense short story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting read but I personally did not like the way the story ended. I would have liked Bride to confront her mom about how she raised her, question Brooklyn's loyalty to her and address her own insecurities. It would have been nice for Bride to adopt Rain. In my opinion, Rain and Bride have similarities even though there is a huge age difference.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I reccomend this for all ages -TBC
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a Tonimorrison fan most of my adult life. Sula, Song of Solomon remain two of my alltime favorites. GOD bless the Child lacks depth, the characters are not believable nor are their circumstances. This book seems more like an outline of anovel yet to be written and in all fairness the author is quite elderly and has likely said all that she has to say...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Toni Morrison is a gem and an incredible woman. Some of the characters in this latest book are quite interesting but I longed to see more develop in the backgroound of each one. It is a quick read for the summer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Short but a good read. Complicated and interesting characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was just too strange for me and I couldn't wait until I was done with it. I did finish it but can't recommend it. Basically a story of very weird personal relationships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Morrison has done it again. Well worth the wait.
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