Critical Assessment

“This haunting, slender novel is a kind of tiny Rosetta Stone to Toni Morrison’s entire oeuvre.

Home encapsulates all the themes that have fueled her fiction . . .: the hold that time past exerts over time present, the hazards of love (and its link to leaving and loss), the possibility of redemption and transcendence. . . .

“In these pages Ms. Morrison eschews the fierce Faulknerian prose and García Márquez-like flights of surrealism that animated some of her earlier novels, adopting a new, pared-down style that enables her to map the day-to-day lives of her characters with lyrical precision.”

Michiko Kakutani, “Soldier Is Defeated by War Abroad, Then Welcomed Back by Racism,” The New York Times, May 7, 2012.

First Excerpt

“Truthfully, other than getting lucky back in Lotus and some street girls in Kentucky, I’ve had only two regular women. I liked the small breakable thing inside each one. Whatever their personality, smarts, or looks, something soft lay inside each. Like a bird’s breastbone, shaped and chosen to wish on. A little V, thinner than bone and lightly hinged, that I could break with a forefinger if I wanted to, but never did. Want to, I mean. Knowing it was there, hiding from me, was enough.

“It was the third woman who changed everything. In her company the little wishbone V took up residence in my own chest and made itself at home. It was her forefinger that kept me on edge. I met her at a cleaner’s. Late fall, it was, but in that ocean-lapped city, who could tell? Sober as sunlight, I handed her my army issue and couldn’t take my eyes away from hers. I must have looked the fool, but I didn’t feel like one. I felt like I’d come home. Finally.”

home-by-toni-morrison1Second Excerpt

“It was so 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 baptized.’ Frank had not been on this dirt road since 1949, nor had he stepped on the wooden planks covering the rain’s washed-out places. There were no sidewalks, but every front yard and backyard sported flowers protecting vegetables from disease and predators – marigolds, nasturtiums, dahlias. Crimson, purple, pink, and China blue. Had these trees always been this deep, deep green? The 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 scarlet rosebushes, nor choke the songs of birds.”