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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 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 uestioning 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


10 thoughts on “Home

  1. says:

    Frank is a black Korean War veteran a year out suffering PTSD imprisoned in a mental hospital for actions he cannot remember He has been engaging in a range of self destructive behaviors that have led him to this bedraggled state He had received a letter concerning his sister “Come fast She be dead if you tarry” and must find his way home There are barriers to be overcome people who will help and memories to be relived One mystery that propels the tale is what happened to cause Frank’s demise Toni Morrison image from her FB pages Home gives the appearance of simplicity But this being Toni Morrison there is always much First is that Frank’s journey bears a striking resemblance in some ways to that of Odysseus He is a soldier returning from war The mental institution from which he escapes seems reminiscent of a certain classical witch’s lair He must cope with a grumpy one eyed man is drawn briefly to the sound of sirens and in memory at least sees animals standing like men reminding one of pigs that had been something else once He and his sister even see as children the outcome of men having been transformed into dogs The home town to which he seeks to return is Lotus Louisiana a place where “there was no goal other than breathing nothing to win and save for somebody else’s uiet death nothing to survive or worth surviving for” More generically there are dragons to be slain in order for Frank to return to and save his damsel in distress Taken yet another way after Frank has descended into the depths of hell he emerges stronger and better able to triumph A Greek chorus is called on to explain what the children Frank and his sister see in the opening scene and whenever someone says “We led him out on a mule” you can probably assume it is a biblical reference There is even what might arguably be considered a Jesus sighting when a mysterious individual offers Frank a hand and urges him to “Stay in the light” Toss in an exodus for good measure So a pot pourri of classical references both religious and secularOn another layer Morrison offers us a portrait of what it was like to be black in the fifties This includes the joys of Jim Crow whites only restaurants police license to stop and frisk anyone at any time even to shoot children with little fear of being held accountable forced sterilization redlining covenant restrictions And in addition Morrison shows how humiliation of black men might impact their women He will beat her when they get home thought Frank And who wouldn’t? It’s one thing to be publicly humiliated A man could move on from that What was intolerable was the witness of a woman a wife who not only saw it but had dared to try to rescue—rescue—him He couldn’t protect himself and he couldn’t protect her either as the rock in her face proved She would have to pay for that broken nose Over and over again This is not the only example to be found here of people paying forward the harsh treatment they have receivedAnd there are recollections of further horrors from a generation before Forced migrations seizure of private property by men with guns whether governmental or non lynchings forcing black people to engage in mortal dog fightsBut there are flickers of light in the darkness Kindness rears its smiling head Conductors of one sort and another help Frank along on his uest as he heads from the generic “Central City” south to a pastoral place to restore his family On escaping the mental institution he sees a sign for the Zion church a powerful symbol of longing for a safe homeland an euivalent maybe for the promised land of Canada for blacks journeying north in an earlier age Although I have read several of her books I will leave to those whose familiarity with the work far exceeds mine the task of comparing Home with Morrison’s other novels these characters with those these situations and themes with others she has written before The central idea of the book is the notion of home Is home to be found in Lotus Louisiana? Maybe Chicago? A mythical promised land? America? When we think of the word “home” I imagine most of us conjure feelings of warmth family community But what if home is not such a welcoming place? When Frank Money returns home from his service in the Korean War the USA that shipped him there does not exactly respond with open arms For many home is the place from which you are drivenAs with most journey stories this is one of self discovery Not only is Frank heading back from whence he came in order to save his sister but to face himself and in so doing to find where home truly lies for him Echoing the words of the poem Morrison uses to open the book This house is strangeIts shadows lieSay tell me why does its lock fit my key the home Frank dreams of is not the one he truly owns His is a much darker abode He must confront the memories from which he flees in order to be able to find his true home his true selfAlthough this is Frank’s story we are given enough time with a few other characters to engage us in following their journeys as well Frank’s sister Cee behaves like the immature girl she is and pays a heavy price searching for a home with an exciting new husband and then working in a household that harbors dark secrets We get to know her well enough to care Frank’s unpleasant stepmother is shown in soft light as well as harsh And the woman with whom he is smitten Lily is given her stroll across the stage as well and provides a mechanism by which to highlight a bit of the era’s McCarthyism Home may not be an epic tale of Homeric length But it is very rich and layered and will reward close reading immenselyEXTRA STUFFMorrison’s Facebook page Morrison passed in 2019 The page is maintained by KnopfInterviews GR interview by Catherine Elsworth The Paris Review – with Elissa Schappel Talks at Google by Torrance Boone video 10037 The Guardian Toni Morrison 'I want to feel what I feel Even if it's not happiness' by Emma BrockesReviews of other Morrison work 2014 God Help the Child 2011 Home 2008 A Mercy 1987 BelovedRead but not reviewed 1977 Song of Solomon 1973 Sula


  2. says:

    A man recently released from the Korean War is heading back across the United States He is traveling from the West Coast to a town in rural Georgia where his sister is in some kind of trouble The man has PTSD He has ‘incidents’ In fact he just escaped from a mental hospital where he was thrown in after one such unidentified incident He is traveling south by train and bus getting money from ministers of black churches The south is still segregated so he often has to pee in the bushes at bus stations because the restrooms are for whites onlyHe doesn’t really want to go back home because of memories of the upbringing he had He grew up with parents who had a little time for he and his sister “Their parents were so beat by the time they came home from work any attention they showed was like a razor – sharp short and thin” The grandparents they had were nasty to them This is a tiny all black town where folks take baths in a tub on the back porch and use wood stovesHe is haunted by nightmares of the atrocities that were inflicted on his comrades in Korea and by the atrocities that he and his comrades inflicted in turn even on civilians including children It’s not pretty He is also haunted by other atrocious events from his childhood such as seeing a body being dumped from a wheel barrel into a shallow grave We assume the buriers were white and the victim was blackI liked the book I’d characterize it as ‘haunting’ It kept my attention it’s short only 145 pages The author won the Nobel Prize in 1993 the first African American author to do so I note that Home is one of the author's lower rated books on GR Most highly rated by GR readers are Song of Solomon and The Bluest Eye while Beloved is by far her most widely read Top photo from cdnvoxcomRural Georgia in 1941 from wpcomrediscovering back historyThe author from gannettcom


  3. says:

    At this point I've read all of TM's novels save one Paradise and that was a novel I at least started and wanted to get through but life got in the way Maybe also I'd gotten far enough to know it wasn't going to be my scene As well I've seen her read three times once from A Mercy a year before it was published and again shortly after it was released with the memories of that earlier reading still ringing fresh in my ears The final time I heard her read it was from this novel Home about a year ago some time before its release this week She read the opening chapter which is as vivid now as it was when I first heard itIt's safe to say that by now I have a fairly setclear opinion on Toni Morrison I very much enjoy and admire her work but not for the reasons people often seem tasked to name when evaluating or explaining her contribution Yes she's certainly had great impact on the ways we talk about race national history cultural memory gender etc But in her most skillfully written books for me these are Beloved Song of Solomon Tar Baby and The Bluest Eye Morrison's most radical contribution is that she teaches us measure for measure how to write a book how to craft an opening line an opening set of lines how they should bud into a page what that page should offer the chapter what that chapter should offer the book how it is in other words that keen attention to literary form can able one to do all the things she's trying to do with the book's social and political themes I almost always feel safe in Morrison's hands because I know that in her best work I'll have reached the finish line with a better sense of what a novel is and what it can do a sense that the novel in the most formal and generic sense can be pushed open to accommodate the lives of black people For all the ways that she's absolutely indebted to Woolf and Faulker per methods of literary style I would say that there's only one other American novelist whose work stirs for me a similar sense of the genre's range of possibilities and that's Henry James Other great examples for me would include Jean Toomer Austen Fitzgerald Hawthorne Wharton Flaubert and a few othersThese are tough shoes to fill and keep filling It's maybe for this reason combined with the fact that Morrison is trying to experiment with other lucid and orally determined storytelling forms that her work has since Jazz become steadily less invested in solving the problem of the novel as a formal genre instead exploring the ways that our interest in typical novel form might be overturned Home is not a bad book but it is for me a less appealing and challenging one because it seems that for Morrison all the uestions of genre have already been answered simply put novels aren't sufficient so instead of trying to craft her characters' lives into perfectly gem like versions of the novel we'll attempt let them exist as something else closer to what these characters and their lives actually are I admire this project and I get it and I'd even encourage it But I'm a sucker for the pristine formalism of early Morrison It challenged provoked and inspired me where this novel and a few of her other recent attempts do not By the end of this novel it was not clear to me why it was written this way why the oral hindsight counter narrative interjections? Why the sparsity the central focus on such a limited range of experiences and memories? Why this war? Nothing in the novel was given enough meat to seem like it was making a case for anything which on the one hand makes sense but on the other made the novel feel half bakedSo this is not my favorite but it certainly isn't bad Still I look forward to a day when Morrison gives as to borrow the phrase of the critics a return to form I miss the novels in which literally everything about them from the number and shape of the chapters to the number and shape of the lines could tell us something 'til then


  4. says:

    What does Home mean? How does one get there? How can one call home to a place that alienates and drains and degrades individuals? Morrison takes the reader on a pilgrimage to unlock the mysteries of that misleading word Destitute Frank Money an allegorical surname in which Morrison exposes her refined irony to view felt at home in a desegregated army fighting for survival than in the racially torn Lotus his hometown in Georgia A year has passed since he came back home from Korea and he wanders around the States like a lost soul until he meets Lily a soothing presence that manages to bring him home from no man's land whenever one of the freuent episodes of memory loss or emotional withdrawal tosses him into the abyss of unbidden anger Lily on the other hand aspires to buy a house in a respectable neighborhood to be treated as an eual and Frank's family name doesn't contribute into materializing her dream Years of sustained abuse in the hands of her embittered step grandmother forces Frank's little sister Cee to flee from home In a society where gender and race ascribe supremacy and without the protection of her devoted brother a young black woman becomes an easy prey and Cee will have to summon the inner strength that runs in the bloodline of past generations of her resilient sisters to build a home for herself in this barren land Frank and Cee brother and sister embark on a heedless journey that will introduce them to all kinds of people some compassionate and generous and others manipulative and vicious a journey that will reunite them back again in Lotus the place they have been trying to escape from for most of their ragged lives But coming full circle to meet their nemesis might entail a restorative catharsis and the ghosts of a traumatized childhood might serve to exorcize the sordidness of the present times The perversity of war and dehumanization the psychological scars that misused and discarded soldiers carry back home the African American civil rights movement and the blatant racial bigotry and latent classism of a segregated society in the America of the fifties serve as historical backdrop to frame the plotlineMorrison condenses thematic patterns and recurrent imagery in this slim but intense novella combining short and incisive sentences where every adjective acuires transcendental connotation precisely because they are scant in the text Gone is the jazzy prose the lyrical repetition and the lush linguistic texture of her previous books a fact that obliges the reader to engage in this game of deciphering and imagining and to participate actively in the storyWhat remains indissoluble is Morrison’s use of a fragmented narrative structure and the non linear timeline which in this case alternates third person narrators that pivot around Frank’s particular odyssey to reinvent Ithaca in interspersed chapters where he becomes an omniscient narrator that addresses his creator in an intimate confessional tone always in accordance with the visual uality of Morrison's proseHorses rising up on their hind legs like menA wooden cross with the inscription “Here Stands A Man” nailed on the trunk of a half rotted bay treeA brother and a sister hurt right down the middle who demand to be treated like human beings with unflinching resolve because they have finally understood that Home is not a physical space but a mental state where suffering and healing can coexist and become invincible


  5. says:

    “Lotus Georgia is the worst place in the world worse than any battlefield At least on the field there is a goal excitement daring and some chance of winning along with many chances of losing Death is a sure thing but life is just as certain Problem is you can’t know in advance” Toni Morrison HomeThe above are the words of an African American Korean War vet Frank Money This novel is about Frank’s journey ‘home’ to Lotus GA a place he swore he would never go to again to rescue his ailing sister Ycidra This story brought to mind James McBride’s book ‘Miracle at St Anna’s’ a novel about African American soldiers in WW2 Italy Like McBride Morrison gives a voice to those people history textbooks gloss over or completely ignore The uestion the same one that is present in McBride’s book is why African American soldiers fight for their country yet are treated like second class citizens“An integrated army is integrated misery You all go fight come back they treat you like dogs Change that They treat dogs better”I’m always surprised by readers who complain about the racial issues in Morrison’s books You can't write a story about the black experience without bringing up race that's just how it is And the fact that Morrison does so with so much boldness is one of the reasons I love her writing Her portrayals of race and racism are realistic and the atrocities she portrays are not isolated incidents either Morrison writes about the comradeship within the black community she illustrates the poverty the racism the fear of the KKK the police brutality She could very well be writing about present day America Reading this and other Morrison books shows the multifaceted nature of racism; there are always new aspects of it shown that we haven’t considered James McBride writes about a segregated army in Italy during WW2 which opened my eyes to the fact that black men were fighting for a country that despised them Morrison’s book showed how these same soldiers would be treated when they returned to the States; Jim Crow laws no respect no gratitude for their sacrifices PTSD symptoms but little helpThis is a story with several shocking details Shocking is an understatement You think you’ve heard it all but the brutality of humans is sometimes difficult to guess Yet despite the visceral details there were pages of beautiful poetic writing “Passing through freezing poorly washed scenery Frank tried to redecorate it mind painting giant slashes of purple and X’s of gold on hills dripping yellow and green on barren wheat fields Hours of trying and failing to recolor the western landscape agitated him but by the time he stepped off the train he was calm enough”Highly recommended


  6. says:

    Toni Morrison proves with this 2012 novel that she still has it This one may not be as beloved as some of her earlier writing but it is still undeniably uniue undeniably Toni Morrison This short novel tells the story of a returning Korean War veteran an African American from Georgia who realizes that bigotry and racial prejudice still exists even for those who served our country in war Sadly that is still true today and not just for African Americans but for many other religious and ethnic minority's as well


  7. says:

    I wanted to dislike this book for its dismal mood Hesitant I wondered whether to continue reading this now or abandon it for later when I could bear the thought of stepping back into time with the main character as he visited a traumatic past I don't uite know how to welcome hopelessness as a thematic undertone and overtone so this week especially I didn't know whether I could suffer with Frank as he faced the world with an outlook of disdain and pure agony remembering when he had no one no money no pride; as he remembered the Korean War when he had enlisted because this was his only way out of his disheartening situation There surrounded by the only friends he had who like him had escaped their town to find some meaning as soldiers life would again revisit his demisePTSD That oh so misunderstood acronym Yet Toni Morrison in a way only Toni Morrision can has Frank cooly dramatize his soldier acuired ailment so that even if you don't get it you get him When he was alone and sober whatever the surroundings he saw a boy pushing his entrails back in holding them in his palms like a fortune teller's globe shattering with bad news; or he heard a boy with only the bottom half of his face intact the lips calling mama And he was stepping over them around them to stay alive to keep his own face from dissolving his own colorful guts under that oh so thin sheet of flesh No judgments Only lyrical candidnessLike the men and women of Paradise Morrison's characters of Lotus Georgia are down trodden black folks who are immigrants in their own home Kicked off their land in Texas and forced to cross state lines Or else Frank and his little sister Ycidra find themselves living in a small house with a cruel step grandmother While their parents toiled the fields daily Frank took care of his baby sister Frank and Cee inseparable Until war alcohol and death drew him further away from her Suddenly he was no longer there when she really needed him How much distress and disappointment can a person take?I hated feeling their pain Hated the gloom Grew disappointed at the lack of happiness Despite this and most likely because of this I grew to love this succinct display of detached pain a work so unlike Morrison's ornate paragraphs and dialogue This is a novella with thematic appeal Sure I will remember the expressionless Cee and those eyes flat waiting always waiting Not patient not hopeless but suspended Yes I will remember the sometimes humorous FrankWomen are eager to talk to me when they hear my last name Money? They snigger and ask the same uestionswas I a gambler or thief or some other kind of crook they should watch out for? When I tell them my nickname what folks back home call me Smart Money they scream with laughter and say Ain't no such thing as dumb money just dumb folks But what I will really remember is the incandescent pain and despair I will remember that once I looked closely I found that hope transcended hopelessness through Cee and that trauma was revived through memory Could it have been longer? Sure But I will take a novella from Toni Morrison any day Memories powerful as they were did not crush him any or throw him into paralyzing despair


  8. says:

    Toni Morrison’s new novel Home begins with two children witnessing a man being buried – presumably alive It’s a strong opening ‘We could not see the faces of the men doing the burying only their trousers; but we saw the edge of a spade drive the jerking foot down to join the rest of itself’ But it’s also a testament to this unsubtle book’s endless litany of atrocities that by the end I’d almost totally forgotten about the man being buried alive Think about that for a moment the book is a mere 145 pages long and I almost totally forgot that it began with a man being buried alive Oh yeah I thought that also happened That was before the war torn protagonist Frank Money admits to having shot a starving Korean girl in the face; before the man being buried is revealed to have been forced to battle his son to the death in a sort of human dogfight; before an entire Texas town of African Americans was made to relocate under pain of death – a lone hold out has his eyes carved out – and please please don’t even get me started on the mad ‘heavyweight Confederate’ eugenics doctor who nearly kills a character by one assumes a forced sexual sterilization experiment gone wrong That was before all the racially motivated beatings and shootings the splattery Korean War vignettes the gang muggings and wrestling prostitutes Someone being buried alive? That’s nothingAgain Home is 145 pages long But the Nobel laureate's tenth novel can’t seem to help itself If something bad can happen it does and then it does again and again until it starts to feel like one of those Hollywood blockbusters where every action seuence becomes bigger crazier louder until the final city destroying finale There’s little time for reflection not when Morrison wants to hit you over the head with history You thought that was bad? Well how about this Boom History repeating itself first as tragedy then as farce then as something so mind numbing that you simply want it to end and I’m not sure if it would have been a relief or totally of a piece if Godzilla himself had appeared at the end of the novel to grind all of Morrison’s woebegone characters into the Georgian dust Basically Home is a pulply morality tale cruising along on a default setting of literary pretension It concerns Frank Money a disturbed six foot three inch African American Korean War veteran and his younger sister Ycodra better known as Cee who Frank has always protected ‘Even before she could walk he’d taken care of her The first word she spoke was ‘Fwank’’ Back from the war and prone to alcoholic derangements of a violent and too metaphorically apt nature yes he starts to see things in black and white before they happen Frank embarks on a 1950s Odyssey from the west coast back home to Lotus Georgia ‘the worst place in the world worse than any battlefield’ Cee he has been told is dying From there we’re parceled out insights into Frank’s present and past the present and past of his current lover Lily his sister Cee and uite a few secondary characters It feigns towards gothic horror war horror and social realism horror never really finding a home in any of these genres You can see the bones of a powerful intergenerational novel or two poking out all over the place – but what we have is far too short too sketchy The book isn’t so much inhabited by characters as case studies Each and every one feels like an excuse for the author to make a point to explore this or that historical tragedy to make sure we stand witness Each character checks off another instance of pre Civil Rights era racism be it the insidious bureaucratic ‘restrictions’ preventing African Americans from making their homes in certain neighborhoods to the full scale murder of for pleasure or sport or ugly American hate There’s just too much here and frankly you need than 145 pages to create characters which can rise above the pain and torment Morrison seems to almost sadistically put them through here It serves nobody to toss off a lurid baffling scene at the end of a novel concerning a human dog fight where a father and son are forced to battle each other to the death with knives while a crowd of men cheer Especially coming not a few pages after the aforementioned confession that Frank Money murdered a small girl in Korea – it feels exploitive and shockingly manipulative Morrison might have earned the right to go there with her past fiction but not within the confines of this novel And I haven’t even mentioned the appearance of the zoot suited ghost which must mean something important because well how many ghosts wear zoot suits?Add to this the fact that Morrison has her third person narrative chopped up by Frank Money telling bits of his story directly to us and her in first person at one point going so far as to uestion the book itself Earlier you wrote about how sure I was that the beat up man on the train to Chicago would turn around when they got home and whip the wife who tried to help him Not true I didn’t think any such thing What I thought was that he was proud of her but didn’t want to show how proud he was to the other men on the train I don’t think you know much about love Or meWhen I read that section I felt like cheering and hoped that maybe Morrison’s fiction was finally standing up for itself Go Frank Money go Maybe the characters were trying to peak through and be heard among the bloody din of Morrison’s agendaYes and I know this sounds disrespectful Toni Morrison is well she’s Toni Morrison She is an American institution; not only a remarkable prose poet and winner of numerous awards but wielder of a genuine literary conscience especially in a time when so many American novelists have long since retreated into the safety of irony and approximation She not only has something to say but importantly she has people who will listen She’s not only written some great books but she’s written a few nearly indisputable classics of world literature like Beloved and Song of SolomonBut Home is not a wise book At its heart it’s a deceptively angry one ‘Deceptive’ because of Morrison’s poetics which can be nimble funny and evocative but often than not here are overdrawn Light for example never simply shines in this novel Try to read this without your inner editor scowling ‘Maniac moonlight doing the work of absent stars matched his desperate frenzy lighting his hunched shoulders and footprints left in the snow’ Exactly So Morrison’s anger comes through in the actions and events rather than in the way they’re described She keeps her voice out of the fray and lets the anger come out in her choice of putting everyone basically through hell Which isn’t to say the anger isn’t justified These are all things that did happen These are things that in many ways still do happen ‘You could be inside living in your own house for years and still men with or without badges but always with guns could force you your family your neighbors to pack up and move – with or without shoes’ The novel in a heavy handed way explores the issues of just what kind of home America was and is for African Americans; and how horrible it is to read about an innocent African American child being shot in 1950s Chicago at the same time as the US media some 60 years later is aflame over the Trayvon Martin case There are flashes of hard won humor and beauty here as well For example Prince Cee’s first love and ill advised husband is described as loving himself ‘so deeply so completely it was impossible to doubt his convictions’ Or this pitch perfect dialog between Cee and the wife of Dr Scott who is interviewing her for a job “Any children?”“No ma’am” “Married?”“No ma’am”“What church affiliation? Any?”“There’s God’s Congregation in Lotus but I don’t ”“They jump around?”“Ma’am?”And Morrison can still control her voice like an instrument and you’re occasionally reminded that you’re dealing with the author of Beloved a writer of a fierce and uniue American rhythm It was so bright brighter than he remembered The sun having sucked away the blue from the sky loitered there in the white heaven menacing Lotus torturing its landscape but failing failing constantly failing to silence it children still laughed ran shouted their games; women sang in their backyards while pinning wet sheets on clotheslines; occasionally a soprano was joined by a neighboring alto or a tenor just passing by ‘Take me to the water Take me to the water Take me to the water To be baptized’ Unfortunately these moments in Home are few and far between and what you’re left with is the smallest shortest big book I think that I’ve ever read Too many terrible events and too many characters deprived the chance to settle down and breathe without constantly having to suffer their creator’s nefarious intentions You don’t know much about me Frank Money insists And though you know Morrison wrote that you get the sense that Money was on to something


  9. says:

    3 and 12 starsI would never dare to criticize Toni Morrison; I love the way she writes I love the way she writes in this novella too but anything I'd say about this book would be subject to how much strongly I felt about her other novels It's the way I tend to rate any author of whom I've read than one work And I admit that if this book were written by any other writer or if it were the first thing I'd read by her I most likely would've given it a solid 4 starsI especially liked the first 34 of it perhaps the ending seemed too rushed to me And if there is anyone who thinks Morrison can't write in a conventional accessible style read this one because here she does; and the language is clear crisp and beautifulOne day perhaps several years from now I plan on rereading in order all her novels I've only reread her Beloved and I will reread this one Anything she writes is worth reading than once


  10. says:

    Home is my first book by Toni Morrison I picked it because it was the easiest to find at the library and I kept seeing the author's name in my friends reviews I believe I've stumbled upon something good If I go by the ratings and the mixed reviews here at Goodreads I expect I will run out of stars to give when I get to her notorious novels seeing as I couldn't give less than five stars on my first experience of the author's work I could find no real fault with the presentation Some reviewers have called the book unsophisticated underdeveloped and the characterization shallow but I believe the simple straightforward style of storytelling fits the subject like a glove My reaction to the book was primarily on the emotional not the critical level in almost total anithesis to a similar book I read this year about people in distress The Book Thief when I kept finding fault with the general tone and the melodrama overload Morrison is understated introverted less angry than for example Walter Mosley but in her own way convincingThis is the story of Frank and Icedra Cee Money two outcasts in search of a a safe haven in a 1950's America that was still fiercely segregated There is an almost mythological biblical angle to the story echoing the ancient tales of Aeneas uest for the promised land after the fall of Troy or the Exodus from Egypt of the Israelites Frank witnessed as a child the eviction at gunpoint of his family from their Texas homes and the troubled resettlement in the dirt poor town of Lotus Georgia Growing up he takes care of his sister Cee and dreams of escape from poverty and hopelessness He seizes the chance of fighting in the Corean War and leaves with two buddies to make his fortune in the larger world Left alone in Lotus Cee falls under the spell of a smooth operator from Atlanta and runs away herself If she hadn't been so ignorant living in a no count not even a town place with only chores church school and nothing else to do she would have known better The novel shows the road Frank his mind destroyed by war nightmares and alcohol and Cee abandoned by her lover and trapped in the house of a dubious medical practitioner take in order to return to Lotus and the efforts they make to put their lives back together The journey is primarily a spiritual not a geographical one with the emphasis on self awareness dignity and community support religious and secular alike Look to yourself You free Nothing and nobody is obliged to save you but you Seed your own land You young and a woman and there's serious limitation in both but you a person too Don't let others decide who you are That's slavery Somewhere inside you is that free person I'm talking about Locate her and let her do some good in the world The lessons learned by Frank and his sister apply to than the plight of African American community and the period described here to wherever and whenever a group of people is discriminated against based on their skin colour sex religion or economic affluence The need to belong to be respected to be secure in your house and in your work are as powerful and threatened today as they were in the 1950's Most often than not succour and understanding is to be found not among the powerful but among the dispossessed who have been through the wringer themselves and who would share readily from their meager belongings Their talk may be rough and their expressions of love hard edged but I found them genuine and moving; Men know a slop jar when they see one You a privy or a woman? Who told you you was trash? If you don't respect yourself why should anybody else? So the way out is through family and community and education but most important of all is the HOME the place the people the spirituality It was bright brighter than he remembered The sun having sucked away the blue from the sky loitered there in a white heaven menacing Lotus torturing its landscape but failing failing constantly failing to silence it children still laughed ran shouted their games; women sang in their backyards while pinning wet sheets on clotheslines; occasionally a soprano was joined by a neighboring alto or a tenor just passing by Take me to the water Take me to the water Take me to the water To be baptizedThe sun did her best to burn away the blessed peace found under the wide old trees; did her best to ruin the pleasure of being among those who do not want to degrade or destroy you Try as she might she could not scorch the yellow butterflies away from the scarlet rosebushes nor choke the songs of birds Her punishing heat did not interfere with Mr Fuller and his nephew sitting in the bed of a truck the boy on a mouth organ the man on a six string banjo The nephew's bare feet swayed; the uncle's left foot tapped out the beat Color silence and music enveloped him Musical background Delta Blues of course Bessie Smith El James Robert Johnson John Lee hooker Instrumental Jazz New Orleans Tracy Chapman