Toni Morrison – God Help The Child (3 stars)

Morrison's latest novel takes an unflinching look at the long term effects of child abuse

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Toni Morrison – God Help The Child

Toni Morrison's latest novel explores the damage adults inflict upon children and the lasting effect it has on their lives. Most of the dramatic events in the book have taken place years previously and we are only witness to the aftermath, calmly recounted by grown-ups. It’s an unflinching account of the prevalence of child sex abuse with nearly every character a victim, a witness or directly affected by the exploitation of parents, teachers and landlords.

Protagonist Bride has suffered years of racial abuse at the hands of own mother. With a daughter blacker than herself, Sweetness strove to prepare Bride for the cruel world of white privilege. By the time she is an adult, attitudes have shifted yet she never escapes being judged by her looks, negatively as a girl then superficially as a woman.

The supernatural element of some of Morrison's previous works is present but in a more diluted manner. Predominately a female driven narrative, only one man speaks: Bride's lover Brooker. While individually the couple explore the wounds of their childhoods with complexity and tender horror, their emotional connection to each other remains unconvincing.

Out on Thu 23 Apr, published by Chatto & Windus

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