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Review: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison


     I read this book courtesy of my friend Shanille, who purchased it for a class on the novels of Toni Morrison (!!!) and lent it to me when she was done.  Thank you girl!
     As usual, this book did not disappoint.  It is about a beautiful, successful, dark-skinned woman named Bride who sets out on a journey to confront an ex-lover, and by extension the many traumas she has experienced both as a child and an adult on account of other people's perceptions of her skin color.  
     My favorite aspect of the story is its characters, because they are drawn in such precise and lush detail.  Bride, for example, has constructed her outward appearance in order to thriveFor example, she goes by 'Bride' rather than her given name, Lula Ann Bridewell, and exclusively wears white clothing, in accordance with the advice of a lifestyle consultant.  At one point, she refers to herself as "The [woman] driving a Jaguar in an oyster-white cashmere dress and boots of brushed rabbit fur the color of the moon," a description which I find both delicious and disturbing (80).  It's delicious because of words like cashmere and Jaguar and oyster and rabbit fur.  The whole line drips with luxury and texture.  But it's disturbing because Bride is describing herself through the things around her rather than the things that she is, as if she has lost track of her self.  Perhaps that is the cost of the constructions she erected, first to protect herself from insults targeting her dark skin, and later to succeed in the overwhelmingly white world of business.  Morrison's first contemporary novel beautifully exposes the ugly forces which caused Bride to make these sacrifices, and the power which Bride must wield to transform these sacrifices into affluence, admiration, and glamour.

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