HOME by Toni Morrison
Kirkus Star

HOME

KIRKUS REVIEW

A deceptively rich and cumulatively powerful novel.

At the outset, this might seem like minor Morrison (A Mercy, 2008, etc.), not only because its length is borderline novella, but because the setup seems generic. A black soldier returns from the Korean War, where he faces a rocky re-entry, succumbing to alcoholism and suffering from what would subsequently be termed PTSD. Yet perhaps, as someone tells him, his major problem is the culture to which he returns: “An integrated army is integrated misery. You all go fight, come back, they treat you like dogs. Change that. They treat dogs better.” Ultimately, the latest from the Nobel Prize–winning novelist has something more subtle and shattering to offer than such social polemics. As the novel progresses, it becomes less specifically about the troubled soldier and as much about the sister he left behind in Georgia, who was married and deserted young, and who has fallen into the employ of a doctor whose mysterious experiments threaten her life. And, even more crucially, it’s about the relationship between the brother and his younger sister, which changes significantly after his return home, as both of them undergo significant transformations. “She was a shadow for most of my life, a presence marking its own absence, or maybe mine,” thinks the soldier. He discovers that “while his devotion shielded her, it did not strengthen her.” As his sister is becoming a woman who can stand on her own, her brother ultimately comes to terms with dark truths and deep pain that he had attempted to numb with alcohol. Before they achieve an epiphany that is mutually redemptive, even the earlier reference to “dogs” reveals itself as more than gratuitous.

A novel that illuminates truths that its characters may not be capable of articulating.
Pub Date: May 8th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-59416-7
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2012




NEW & NOTABLE FICTION: MAY 2012:

Fiction BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK by Ben Fountain
by Ben Fountain
Fiction CANADA by Richard Ford
by Richard Ford
Fiction I COULDN'T LOVE YOU MORE by Jillian Medoff
by Jillian Medoff
Mystery DON'T EVER GET OLD by Daniel Friedman
by Daniel Friedman

MORE BY TONI MORRISON

FictionA MERCY by Toni Morrison
by Toni Morrison
FictionLOVE by Toni Morrison
by Toni Morrison
AdultTHE BIG BOX by Toni Morrison
by Toni Morrison

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionANOTHER COUNTRY by James Baldwin
by James Baldwin
IndieTHE CHANGEABLE CHILD by K. M.  Edwards
by K. M. Edwards
NonfictionDISPATCHES by Michael Herr
by Michael Herr