Summary and book reviews of Home by Toni Morrison

Home
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  • Hardcover: May 2012,
    160 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2013,
    160 pages.

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Book Summary

America's most celebrated novelist, Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison extends her profound take on our history with this twentieth-century tale of redemption: a taut and tortured story about one man's desperate search for himself in a world disfigured by war.

Frank Money is an angry, self-loathing veteran of the Korean War who, after traumatic experiences on the front lines, finds himself back in racist America with more than just physical scars. His home may seem alien to him, but he 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 and that he's hated all his life. As Frank revisits his memories from childhood and the war that have left him questioning his sense of self, he discovers a profound courage he had thought he could never possess again.

A deeply moving novel about an apparently defeated man finding his manhood - and his home.

Chapter One

They rose up like men. We saw them. Like men they stood.

We shouldn’t have been anywhere near that place. Like most farmland outside Lotus, Georgia, this one here had plenty of scary warning signs. The threats hung from wire mesh fences with wooden stakes every fifty or so feet. But when we saw a crawl space that some animal had dug—a coyote maybe, or a coon dog—we couldn’t resist. Just kids we were. The grass was shoulder high for her and waist high for me so, looking out for snakes, we crawled through it on our bellies. The reward was worth the harm grass juice and clouds of gnats did to our eyes, because there right in front of us, about fifty yards off, they stood like men. Their raised hooves crashing and striking, their manes tossing back from wild white eyes. They bit each other like dogs but when they stood, reared up on their hind legs, their forelegs around the withers of the other, we held our breath in wonder. One was rust-colored, the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The introduction, discussion questions, and suggested further reading that follow are designed to enliven your group's discussion of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison's searing new novel, Home.


About This Book

Frank Money and his sister Cee are profoundly lost, divided from each other and from themselves as they search for direction and hope in 1950s America. Frank joined the army to escape his too-small world, leaving behind his cherished and fragile sister. When he returns to the United States after the war, he is haunted by memories of his childhood and the horrors he witnessed abroad; it is only when he hears that Cee is in danger that his life regains the sense of purpose he had lost.

As the novel ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

"Home" is very short - a novella rather than a novel - and the details are sketchy. It gives the impression of something boiled down to its essence, nothing extraneous. Morrison focuses on the internal experiences of characters not given to introspection. This is not navel-gazing, it is voyeurism at it finest... a great example of powerful storytelling from an established writer who has not lost her touch.   (Reviewed by Beverly Melven).

Full Review Members Only (874 words).

Media Reviews
The Guardian

...if Morrison had finished writing the novel she so carefully began, it might have been one of her best in years. But at well under 200 pages with wide margins, Home barely begins before it ends... Home should be relentless, unsparing, but Morrison relents halfway through, and spares everyone – most of all herself.

The Telegraph

["Home" is] much more linguistically subdued than most of her work, and her grand themes of redemption, homecoming, and self-ownership do not work best on a small scale. Still, slice it anywhere and you will find striking moments, dialogue that sings with life, and the mythic American landscape and its people surviving within it.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A deceptively rich and cumulatively powerful novel... A novel that illuminates truths that its characters may not be capable of articulating.

Booklist

Starred Review. Morrison, one of our national literary treasures, continues to marshal her considerable talents to draw a deeply moving narrative and draw in a wide range of appreciative readers... bound to be a big hit.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. [An] immaculate new novel... Beautiful, brutal, as is Morrison's perfect prose.

Library Journal

At 160 pages, this is not a big brass band of a novel but a chamber work, effectively telescoping Morrison's passion and lush language.

Los Angeles Times, David L. Ulin

[A] thin book with some beautiful writing that ultimately comes off as insubstantial and contrived. Part of the problem is that everything happens too quickly, with no real sense of what's at stake. But even more it is the author's — or the narrator's — distance, the sense that Morrison is not fully invested in this fictional world... Ultimately, the impression with which "Home" leaves us is of a novel that, like the town it encircles, is "much less than enough." Or maybe it's that the book seems tired, as if it were something we've read before. Either way, it leaves us wanting, without the discovery, the recognition of how stories can enlarge us, that defines Morrison's most vivid work.

New York Times

This haunting, slender novel is a kind of tiny Rosetta Stone to Toni Morrison’s entire oeuvre... Ms. Morrison has found a new, angular voice and straight-ahead storytelling style that showcase her knowledge of her characters, and the ways in which violence and passion and regret are braided through their lives, the ways in which love and duty can redeem a blighted past.

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Quilting As Hobby and Metaphor

In Home, Cee learns to quilt while recovering from a near-fatal run-in with a doctor who used poor, black women as experimental subjects in his research. After returning to her hometown, her neighbors keep her company in her sickroom and, with their help, she makes her first quilt. She also starts to put together the broken pieces of her life to make something she can call her own and be proud of.

I am not a quilter. I'm fascinated by patterns and mosaics, but the sewing part of the equation has kept me from diving in. However, I did live with a dedicated quilter for a while, and watching her piece together those beautiful quilts was fascinating and humbling. Making something beautiful and functional from scraps is a wonderful ...

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