In Toni Morrison’s latest novel, Home, 24-year old Frank Money is an African-American army veteran struggling to maintain his sanity, his manhood, and find his place in the world a year after returning from the Korean War.
Less than 200 pages long, this short but powerful offering begins with Frank escaping from a Seattle mental hospital for reasons he can’t or chooses not to remember. Once free, he begins a dangerous and eye-opening journey back to his younger sister, Cee, who is gravely ill under mysterious circumstances in Georgia.
As the plot unfolds, Frank desperately struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, encounters senseless racism, learns what the real meaning of “home” is for him, and eventually confronts the truth about a horrible and deadly decision he made in Korea that has continued to “tilt” his mental stability.
The novel is structured so that it is mainly told in third person, but with Frank periodically narrating chapters. This arrangement works well because we get a first-hand glimpse into Frank’s private thoughts, while from the third person aspect, we learn more about Cee and her own story of sorrow and hardship.
Although brief in length, Home is still classic Toni Morrison. The book flows with her familiar lyrical writing style, is filled with the obvious symbolism and allegory she packs into all her stories, introduces us to rich, complex characters, and layers itself with multiple meanings and interpretations.
That being said, Home does have a slightly more restrained feel, is more tightly written and straightforward, and provides an “easier read” than other Morrison selections like Beloved or The Bluest Eye. For those who have never read a Toni Morrison novel but want to familiarize themselves with her writing, this book is actually a good selection to start with.
One small complaint is that the concluding chapters could have had a little more depth and examined some difficult subjects more intensely; however, by the last pages of the novel, Morrison does make the story feel like it comes full-circle without a lot of loose ends.
More importantly, Home’s ending effectively conveys to readers the feeling of hope, pride, peace and optimism that Frank and Cee discover together and separately while successfully making the point that Home, both literally and figuratively, has a different meaning and interpretation for everyone.
More reviews: NPR, New York Times
Audio excerpt: Morrison reads from Home
About the Author
Amy Morris is a librarian technical assistant at the Westport Branch. She earned a B.A. in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, from Avila University. Besides reading and writing, Amy enjoys traveling, art, being creative, and spending time with her family.