God Help the Child is another Toni Morrison poetical mistresspiece. But before I go too far in, may I say how much I love the book cover? On the one hand, it couldn’t be simpler: the letters of the title plus Morrison’s name. Each letter of G. H. t. is a delicately different shade of rose, mustard, peach, violet, toffee. CHILD is spelled out in pale cream. Toni’s name is lettered in three repeating shades of blue: turquoise, sky, and storm. For me, the book cover served as a contemplative device. I studied it during story breaks to think on what I was reading.
Toni’s characters are big and bold. Gigantic. They err big and do it for a reason. More often than not, they enter willingly into destruction, with bold, slashing actions. They are on their way to Canaan, but they’ll hurt the ones they love or the ones they should love before they arrive for the wedding.
In GHtC ghosts don’t set up house like they did in Beloved. Flesh and blood characters do the haunting.
Bride is a black black girl born to light-skinned African Americans. The couple’s marriage can’t stand the shock. The husband leaves and the wife raises Bride solo. Hers is a loveless labor. She instructs Bride to call her Sweetness so that no one will think Bride is her child.
In her late teens, Bride discovers the bewitching power of her black skin. She creates You, Girl!: beauty products that cater to women of all skin tones. Bride becomes the face behind You, Girl! and becomes fabulously wealthy.
As a young girl, Bride testified against a child molester. Bride’s testimony sent the woman to prison for twenty-five years. When the woman is released on parole, the successful face behind You, Girl! visits with a goodie bag of cash and cosmetics. The woman thanks Bride by beating her to a pulp.
Brooklyn, Bride’s white, dread coiffed business partner, shows disdain for Bride’s misguided attempt at charity and begins a takeover of Bride’s cosmetic’s empire.
Before the bruises fade, Bride’s African-American lover, Booker, a jazz artist and tortured soul, leaves her. His parting words: You not the woman I want.
Next, the holes in Bride’s earlobes close and her pubic hair disappears. The physical regression to her prepubescent self galvanizes her. She resolves to track down Booker and find out just why she isn’t the woman he wants.