A man named Money

“Home” by Toni Morrison is available from the library in hardcover, large print, audio, and e-book.

Jen McCormackIn her slim but powerful novel, Home, Toni Morrison explores not only racism but the trauma suffered by those who served in the Korean War, the suffocating nature of small town life in 1950s Georgia, and the lives of black women in the rural south in the middle of the 20th century.

The main character, Frank Money, is a soldier just returned from a tour in Korea, carrying with him the memory of the friends who will never come home.

The fact that he survived when his friends did not fuels his desire to rescue his sister Cee from her suffering at the hands of the doctor she works for, Dr. Beauregarde Scott.

An unwitting research subject
Dr. Scott  is a scientist, interested more in researching eugenics than treating patients, and Cee is his current research subject. Cee went to work for the doctor believing she would be assisting him in his practice but ended up drugged most of the time, an unknowing participant in his research. When Frank gets her letter begging him to rescue her, he leaves his latest girlfriend behind and heads to Georgia.

In between chapters about Frank’s journey to find Cee, Morrison tells the story of their growing up and eventual (inevitable) parting as teenagers. Even more poignant are chapters in which Frank reflects on his time in war, the things he saw and did alongside his comrades.

Throughout the book I was caught by Morrison’s elegant language and phrasing, how she could summarize the reality of racism in just one short sentence spoken by a character:

“Custom is just as real as law, and can be just as dangerous.”

And later expressing the penetrating grief of being a survivor, the impossibility of being alive when your best friends are not:

“He was far too alive to stand before Mike’s folks . . . his easy breath and unscathed self would be an insult . . . “

Normally I wouldn’t even pick up a book as short as Home but this time I am glad I did: Morrison’s talent for language and expression allows her to tell a powerful story in only 145 pages.

About Jen McCormack

Jen McCormack is the director of the Nashua Public Library. Previously she was director of the Tewksbury (Mass.) Public Library and assistant director and reference librarian at the Amesbury (Mass.) Public Library. She studied history at UNH and earned her master's in library and information science from Simmons College.

Comments are closed.