16. Home

In a way, home can be considered the beginning of us all.  For some it evokes nostalgia, comfort, warmth, love-a place one can’t wait to get back to.  For others it’s a place we’d like to forget completely or partly, and some wander aimlessly for a good amount of their lives trying to find one.   Home is our reference point.  The place which has made us in some respect who we are today.  Home is the story of Frank Money and his journey to his home after serving in the Korean War, which took place between 1950 and 1953.  Frank is a self-loathing African-American man who is searching for peace among all the horrors he went through during the Korean War, but that he can’t seem to shake.  He tries to subdue them with alcohol but that just disorients him. and gets him into trouble.  This novel is engaging, but very melancholy.  At some points, I got the impression that he felt he didn’t deserve to survive the war.  It’s very difficult to talk about this book without including spoilers but I’ll try.

The second main character in Home is Frank’s sister, Cee.  Cee is the reason that Frank finally goes home.  Growing up, Frank and Cee were very close to each other.  He protected his sister as if he were a parent.  Until then, we follow Frank through the ups and downs of being an African-American veteran in racist America.  Jim Crow Laws (1876-1965) are being enforced, separating blacks from whites, and preventing any type of equality.  The Korean War was the first time that whites and blacks actually fought in combat side-by-side in war.  Preceding this war, the military was segregated, although President Truman had signed the Executive Order 9981 in July of 1948.  It established equal treatment and opportunity in the Armed Forces without regard to race.  More than 600,000 African-Americans served in the Korean War and no one can begin to imagine the horrors they must have had to face in the US after what they had already been through in Korea.  What’s even more incomprehensible is that Korea integrated the armed forces.

Home is Toni Morrison’s latest and tenth book.  Morrison is 81 this year and still an extraordinary writer.  I hope she’ll continue to write these informative and important stories that we don’t have the possibility to read so often.  Before long,  I’ll be able to say I’ve read them all.  I still have Love and Paradise left to complete reading all of her genius works.  Home is a real gem!  Morrison does what she knows how to do best, which are descriptions and massively detail packed sentences giving you the character analysis,  scenery and time, but most of all feelings.  She really knows how to get to the crux of the subject and the emotion, which she explores thoroughly.  It’s like watching a movie and you’re afraid to blink because you’re afraid of missing something.  I hated putting it down because I just wanted to know more about what happens to the characters in the future.  I haven’t read anything before as a fiction novel on this subject, but Home reads quickly.  The proof, I read it in 2 days.  I probably could have read it quicker if I didn’t have so many classes to teach.  Approaching the end of the novel, I wanted to know more about the future of the characters.  It’s a lovely little 145 page book that I suggest all Morrison fans and newbies to Morrison should read.  I rate it 5 stars out of 5!  Happy reading……

http://www.nj.gov/military/korea/factsheets/afroamer.html

14 Comments

  1. This historircal novel sounds like an atmosphere of jungle heat (reminds me of “l’enfant khmère”) where one just tries to survive, retold in a concise and thorough style (like André Gide); literature at its best.
    The return sounds like a desillusion, for all these young men; having given so much to the US and having no real hope of improvement once home. No wonder some could not support this and became depressed. It happened often after wars; Vietnam veterans, world war I victors (the french soldiers were not demobilized right away and they lingered for as much as a year before returning home incognito). In other words, the return is also a difficult moment for one has to find his place in a society that has evolved without him: his job position is taken, his family expects him back but there is not always a room//job for him. Racists do not help at all, they just make the suffering much worse.

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  2. Great post! I must agree I felt home was really melancholy. I haven’t read Paradise, Jazz, or Beloved. I have Paradise and Jazz in my TBR pile. I really liked Love but I’m partial to TarBaby and A Mercy! Happy Reading!

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    • You’ll love Beloved!! It’s a great work and a must read, but helas melancholy. Jazz I found really difficult to read but I’m going to try to reread it because I’m not sure I was in the mood and PAradise is on my TBR list. If all goes well I’m going to try to get to Paradise and Love before the year ends. Happy reading to you too……

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  3. Because of your recommendation, I read Home and enjoyed it quite a bit—so thank you (I even wrote bit of a review on goodreads!) I had not picked up a Toni Morrison book since Jazz. A Mercy was suggested to me as well. What did you think of that one?

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