I have read a few books since posting my last book review on No Safe Place, but I have not yet posted any reviews. After my nerdiness won a trying argument with my laziness and insecurity, I am back on the task, and ready to get to some of these backlogged book reviews. The next book I read, Home by Toni Morrison, was a birthday gift from friend and fellow blogger, ValSox. It is a short book, published in mid-2012. I read it within a day, but the story, or, more importantly, the connotations within the story, are as deep and complex as any saga. No one, I’m saying no one packs a punch into 147 pages like Toni Morrison. For example, the concept of “home” has so many different meanings for many different people, and that is one of the driving themes in this novel.
For the central character, Frank, a 24 year old southern black man and recent Korean War veteran, home is an evolution, both literally and metaphorically. He starts out fresh from fighting in the war, obviously traumatized, and strapped to a hospital bed. He shortly escapes and slowly makes his way across the miles to his segregated hometown in Georgia, where he heard his little sister is in trouble. His little sister is the most important person in his life, and he feels fiercely protective. He fights with PTSD-like blackouts and rages as well as alcoholism. Everything he knows of his home in Georgia is the opposite of warm and welcoming. He grew up poor in hard times, and his family, aside from his sister, was cold or absent to them. It takes everything he has just go make himself go back there and face his past, and what awaits him there are depths and perspectives he could have imagined.
Toni Morrison’s writing is rich like nothing else I’ve ever read. She presents reality in her stories without fear or apology, even when it is ugly, but she is able to show us what is beautiful in it. Her stories are forces, not just fiction, and her art is precise. She is able to paint an entire broad picture, ie. live in the segregated South during the 1950’s, without making explicit reference to historical events, political or social issues, or emotional issues. There is no wasting words, the story is just alive. The characters live. Morrison’s writing allows readers to see directly into the core of her characters, and the story unfolds outward from there.
I can easily say that Home, by Toni Morrison was a great birthday present. Thank you, ValSox. I will recommend this book to a friend, and though I don’t usually re-read books, I will probably read this one again. I always love to hear what other people get out of books, so let me know if you read or have read this one. I’d love to hear what you think. Stay tuned for the next review of a book of humor essays called People Are Unappealing (Even Me) by Sara Barron. I agree.