Book Review: Home by Toni Morrison

Posted February 20, 2012 by Heather in Book Reviews / 12 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Home by Toni MorrisonHome by Toni Morrison
Published by Knopf on May 8, 2012
Genres: Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 160
Source: the publisher

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An angry and self-loathing veteran of the Korean War, Frank Money finds himself back in racist America after enduring trauma on the front lines that left him with more than just physical scars. His home--and himself in it--may no longer be as he remembers it, but Frank is shocked out of his crippling apathy by the need to rescue his medically abused younger sister and take her back to the small Georgia town they come from, which he's hated all his life. As Frank revisits the memories from childhood and the war that leave him questioning his sense of self, he discovers a profound courage he thought he could never possess again. A deeply moving novel about an apparently defeated man finding his manhood--and his home.

(from the publisher's website)

Toni Morrison’s much-anticipated new novel takes place in the 1950s and deals with the themes of racism; war and its effects on those involved; eugenics and the medical abuse of black women; family; friendship; and honor. Home embodies everything we have come to expect from this Nobel Prize winning author–beautiful writing, tough subjects, realistic characters, and lots of soul-searching.

The story begins with a childhood memory of Frank and his sister, Cee, and that memory–among others–will come back to haunt Frank throughout the book. He and his sister have gone to check out the horses in a field near their home in Lotus, Georgia, but end up witnessing a group of white men secretly burying a black man (who seems to still be alive, although barely). Both children are terrified by what they see, but Frank is the self-proclaimed protector of his younger sister, so he does his best to remain strong and keep her calm. They don’t know who the man was, and they don’t try to find out…

Years later, that need to protect his sister is what will ultimately bring Frank back to Lotus, Georgia–the place that he and his friends hated enough to risk their lives to leave by joining the military and going to war.

Leaving Georgia didn’t bring Frank the contentment or happiness he was looking for, though–instead it got him sent to Korea where he would see and do things that would hurt him, both emotionally and psychologically. Although he put his life on the line to serve his country in the military, when he gets back to the states he discovers that he still has to put up with the same racism and poor treatment that he experienced as a civilian, in addition to his own anger and self-hatred. As the events of Frank’s and Cee’s stories unfold, and as Frank deals with his personal demons, he begins to realize that the very place he sought to escape as a young man–his home town  in Georgia–is the one place where there is a community of people who are willing to look out for one another and take care of one another. For all its faults, that small town in Georgia ends up proving to Frank that it can save him and his sister, and make him feel at home. Frank is a broken man who has been looking for acceptance, redemption, and contentment in all the wrong places, but it is in Lotus, Georgia, that Frank will finally redeem himself and begin to heal.

I have been looking forward to a new Toni Morrison novel for almost four years now, and Home embodies everything I’ve come to know and love about Morrison and her writing–it deals with epic themes and has a great storyline; Frank is a complex and sympathetic protagonist; and Morrison’s writing is wonderful, as always. At 160 pages, I just wish it had been longer–I read it in less than a day and it ended much too soon. If you’re already a fan of Toni Morrison, I have no doubt that you’ll love this book; if you haven’t read anything by Toni Morrison before, what are you waiting for? I recommend Home to anyone who likes reading good literary fiction and/or to anyone who is interested in learning more about the themes discussed in the book.

I can’t wait until its release in May so that we can discuss it together!