In her new novella, Home, Toni Morrison revisits some familiar themes for her in new ways. Korean War veteran Frank Money finds himself stateside again, struggling to figure out where he belongs. While Money is an every-man meant to signify the challenges not only veterans but specifically black veterans face on returning home after war, he is also a deeply personal character reeling from childhood traumas alongside haunting images of war. Lyrical and intimate as all Morrison's novels are, Home's brevity prevents the piece from being one of her greatest achievements.
As children, Frank Money and his sister Cee witness a man being buried in the woods, the image of his foot hanging out of the shallow grave haunting the siblings their whole lives. Seeing this horrific act bonds the two together, even when they are separated through the war. When Frank receives a startling note telling him of his sister's suddenly grave condition, he travels from his Midwest home back to the squalid hometown he promised never to return. Ironically, it is the return to his hated childhood home that finally lets the Money siblings find some sort of piece.
The slim volume weighs in at a mere 160 pages, making it Morrison's shortest since Oprah's Book Club selection, Sula. While there are some aspects of the plot that could have grown with more length--a mysterious, well-dressed ghost-figure, the exact medical abuse that caused Cee's ailment--the trimness of the novel is quite refreshing. With language that is both poetic and clear, Morrison's latest novel shows itself to be one of her most approachable. If you've been curious about the phenomenal writer's work, her latest would be a good entrance point and a warm-up to her more profound novels.
Bottom Line: Despite not being Morrison's best work, she still proves herself to be a much stronger writer than almost anyone else you'll read. Do yourself a favor and read her. Now.
You can find Toni Morrison's Home at your local chain bookstore, online, or at an independent bookstore near you (click here for a list). You can also download it to your Kindle, Nook, iPad or other eBook reader.