God Help the Child

Knopf. Apr. 2015. 192p. ISBN 9780307594174.$24.95. ebk. ISBN 9780307399779. F
OrangeReviewStarIn her latest book, Nobel laureate Morrison shows us how we hold onto our pain and let it define us, pulling back on her often liquidly lyric style to offer powerful portraits in lean prose. Sweetness, who is from a family whose members can pass for white, gives birth to the midnight-black Lula Ann and raises her at an ashamed and bitter distance, which she rationalizes will toughen her up. As a child, Lula Ann gains some favor from her mother by helping to put away a teacher named Sofia, who is accused of sexually abusing her charges. As an adult who renames herself Bride, Lula Ann becomes a successful, traffic-stoppingly beautiful career woman. But her life starts falling apart when she meets with a just-paroled Sofia. Then Booker, with whom she's been conducting a passionate affair, leaves without explanation. Serious-minded Booker cannot leave behind a terrible family tragedy, and as Bride pursues him for answers to his abandonment, they are both transformed in more ways than one.
VERDICT There are some moves here that may seem obvious, but the pieces all fit together seamlessly in a story about beating back the past, confronting the present, and understanding one's worth. [See Prepub Alert, 11/17/14.]

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