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Home By Toni Morrison (Chatto & Windus)

Last update - Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 11:04 By Jeanette Rehnstrom

Home is a lovely complex little book by an author for whom no introduction is needed. In the poor town of Lotus in Georgia, Frank has had a troubled upbringing through which he has steered himself and his little sister Cee as best he can. But trouble continues to visit them both and they are separated by war and what poses as love. 

When Frank returns from Vietnam a shattered man, haunted by the deaths of his closest friends as well as the lives he has taken, he flounders and flails for a long while. Although he meets a loving woman who seems to help him break the circles of horror through which he lives, he still can’t shake off his ghosts. 

A sudden letter from a friend of his sister’s urges him to save Cee from the doctor for whom she works, a man not quite what he seems. Frank makes his way towards his sister and back towards their hometown, the town he could not wait to get out of at one point in time. What will he find in his rejected home? Will the confrontation of the past be the final unravelling of him?

In a recent Guardian interview, Toni Morrison professed that she has never felt she wanted to enhance or dull life through taking drugs or drinking alcohol, as she always wanted to experience life’s pains and joys untainted, in their unadultered forms. This philosophy of hers comes through quite clearly in this book, especially in the way she describes the poor but proud women of Lotus who end up taking care of Cee in her attempts at recovery. 


These women are hard and have little time for whiners or complainers, but by being the way they are, they help nurse Cee’s vulnerable being in this world into a strong and self-confident woman that probably never will have to depend on anyone ever again, not even her brother. These women do not flinch or look away from the killing of an animal, nor the difficult detestable traits in others as well as oneself, such as meanness or wickedness. Instead they look the issues straight in the eye and then organise their lives to insulate themselves from the ill effects as much as possible. They know they can’t avoid them, that they will be affected but never be broken by them, and it is this faith that forms the spine of Home.

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