by Toni Morrison


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A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction
A Best Book of the Year: NPR, AV Club, St. Louis Dispatch

When Frank Money joined the army to escape his too-small world, he left behind his cherished and fragile little sister, Cee. After the war, his shattered life has no purpose until he hears that Cee is in danger.

Frank is a modern Odysseus returning to a 1950s America mined with lethal pitfalls for an unwary black man. As he journeys to his native Georgia in search of Cee, it becomes clear that their troubles began well before their wartime separation. Together, they return to their rural hometown of Lotus, where buried secrets are unearthed and where Frank learns at last what it means to be a man, what it takes to heal, and--above all--what it means to come home.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307740915
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/01/2013
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 38,628
Product dimensions: 5.36(w) x 7.84(h) x 0.52(d)

About the Author

Toni Morrison is the author of eleven novels, from The Bluest Eye (1970) to God Help the Child (2015). She received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and in 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She died in 2019.


Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan

Date of Birth:

February 18, 1931

Date of Death:

August 5, 2019

Place of Birth:

Lorain, Ohio

Place of Death:

New York


Howard University, B.A. in English, 1953; Cornell, M.A., 1955

Read an Excerpt


They rose up like men. We saw them. Like men they stood.

We shouldn’t have been anywhere near that place. Like most farmland outside Lotus, Georgia, this here one had plenty scary warning signs. The threats hung from wire mesh fences with wooden stakes every fifty or so feet. But when we saw a crawl space that some animal had dug—a coyote maybe, or a coon dog—we couldn’t resist. Just kids we were. The grass was shoulder high for her and waist high for me so, looking out for snakes, we crawled through it on our bellies. The reward was worth the harm grass juice and clouds of gnats did to our eyes, because there right in front of us, about fifty yards off, they stood like men. Their raised hooves crashing and striking, their manes tossing back from wild white eyes. They bit each other like dogs but when they stood, reared up on their hind legs, their forelegs around the withers of the other, we held our breath in wonder. One was rust-colored, the other deep black, both sunny with sweat. The neighs were not as frightening as the silence following a kick of hind legs into the lifted lips of the opponent. Nearby, colts and mares, indifferent, nibbled grass or looked away. Then it stopped. The rust-colored one dropped his head and pawed the ground while the winner loped off in an arc, nudging the mares before him.

As we elbowed back through the grass looking for the dug-out place, avoiding the line of parked trucks beyond, we lost our way. Although it took forever to re-sight the fence, neither of us panicked until we heard voices, urgent but low. I grabbed her arm and put a finger to my lips. Never lifting our heads, just peeping through the grass, we saw them pull a body from a wheelbarrow and throw it into a hole already waiting. One foot stuck up over the edge and quivered, as though it could get out, as though with a little effort it could break through the dirt being shoveled in. 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. When she saw that black foot with its creamy pink and mud-streaked sole being whacked into the grave, her whole body began to shake. I hugged her shoulders tight and tried to pull her trembling into my own bones because, as a brother four years older, I thought I could handle it. The men were long gone and the moon was a cantaloupe by the time we felt safe enough to disturb even one blade of grass and move on our stomachs, searching for the scooped-out part under the fence. When we got home we expected to be whipped or at least scolded for staying out so late, but the grown-ups did not notice us. Some disturbance had their attention.

Since you’re set on telling my story, whatever you think and whatever you write down, know this: I really forgot about the burial. I only remembered the horses. They were so beautiful. So brutal. And they stood like men.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Haunting . . . [Morrison] maps the day-to-day lives of her characters with lyrical precision. . . . Home encapsulates all the themes that have fueled her fiction, from the early novels Sula and The Bluest Eye, through her dazzling masterwork, Beloved." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Gorgeous and intense, brutal yet heartwarming. . . . Accessible, tightly composed and visceral as anything Morrison has yet written. . . . [A] devastating, deeply humane—and ever-relevant—book." —Heller McAlpin, NPR

"Luminescent. . . . There is no novelist alive who has captured the beauty and democracy of the American vernacular so well." —The Boston Globe

"Powerful. . . . Jaw-dropping in its beauty and audacity. . . . Brims with affection and optimism." —San Francisco Chronicle

“This scarily quiet tale packs all the thundering themes Morrison has explored before. She’s never been more concise, though, and that restraint demonstrates the full range of her power. . . . A daringly hopeful story about the possibility of healing — or at least surviving in a shadow of peace.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“A fertile narrative imbued with and embellished by Morrison’s visionary scope and poetic majesty.” —Elle
“A bona fide literary event . . . an emotional powerhouse. . . . Told in the stark, economical tone of a short story, with all the philosophical heft of a novel.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A short, swift, and luminescent book. . . . A remarkable thing: proof that Toni Morrison is at once America’s most deliberate and flexible writer. She has almost entirely retooled her style to tell a story that demands speed, brevity, the treat of a looming curtain call. . . . There is no novelist alive who has captured the beauty and democracy of the American vernacular so well.” —The Boston Globe
“Profound . . . Morrison's portrayal of Frank is vivid and intimate, her portraits of the women in his life equally masterful. Its brevity, stark prose, and small cast of characters notwithstanding, this story of a man struggling to reclaim his roots and his manhood is enormously powerful." —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Perhaps Morrison’s most lyrical performance to date. . . . Home has a sparer, faster pace than earlier Morrison novels like Beloved or Jazz, as though a drumbeat is steadily intensifying in the background and the storyteller has to keep up.” —The New York Review of Books
“In a mere 145 pages, Morrison has created a richly textured, deeply felt novel. “Home” has a sense of the real with a touch of magic. After 10 novels and a Nobel prize, Toni Morrison certainly isn’t resting on her laurels.” —Louisville Courier-Journal
“Her themes—identity, community, the resoluteness of both good and evil—are epic, and her language uniquely her own. . . . Taut and muscular, Home wastes not a word. . . . In sentences balanced like proverbs, the Nobel Prize winner conjures up the community of country women Frank asks to help save Cee.” —The Plain Dealer
“In this slim, scathing novel, Morrison brings us another quintessentially American character struggling through another shameful moment in our nation’s history. . . . Home is as much prose poem as long-form fiction—a triumph for a beloved literary icon who proves that her talents remain in full flower. Four stars.” —People
“A short, urgent novel, polished to the essential themes that the Nobel Prize-winning author has explored for decades.” —The Columbus Dispatch
“Beautifully wrought . . . [Home] packs considerable power, because the Nobel Prize-winning author is still writing unflinchingly about the most painful human experiences. There’s nothing small about the story she’s told with such grace in these pages.” —The Oregonian

Reading Group Guide

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggested further reading that follow are designed to enliven your group’s discussion of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison’s searing new novel, Home.

1. Why has Toni Morrison chosen Home for her title? In what ways is the novel about both leaving home and coming home? What does home mean for Frank, for Cee, for Lenore, for Lily?

2. The race of the characters is not specified in the novel. How does Morrison make clear which characters are black and which are white? Why might she have chosen not to identify characters explicitly by their race?

3. What is the effect of alternating between Frank’s first-person (italicized) narration and the third-person omniscient narration through which most of the story is told? What is the implied relationship between Frank and the narrator?

4. Talking about the horrors of war in Korea, Frank tells the reader: “You can’t imagine it because you weren’t there” (p. 93). Does the reader succeed in imagining it even though he or she was not there? How close to another’s experience, even those radically unlike our own, can imagination take us?

5. How has Frank’s war experience affected him? What symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder does he exhibit? In what ways does he suffer from survivor guilt?

6. In what sense can Home be understood as Frank’s confession?

7. In what very concrete ways does Cee’s lack of education hurt her? How might she have been saved from infertility had she understood the implication of the books about eugenics in Dr. Beau’s office?

8. Why do the women who heal Cee have such contempt for “the medical industry”? [p. 122]. In what ways are Frank and Cee both victims of a medical system that puts its own aims above the heath of its patients? Does Home offer an implicit critique of our own health-care system?

9. What methods do Miss Ethel Fordham and the other women use to nurse Cee back to health? Why do they feel Frank’s male energy might hinder the healing process? What larger point is Morrison making about the difference between feminine and masculine, or earth-based and industrial, ways of treating illness?

10. Frank doesn’t know “what took place during those weeks at Miss Ethel’s house surrounded by those women with seen-it-all eyes,” only that they “delivered unto him a Cee who would never again need his hand over her eyes or his arms to stop her murmuring bones” (p. 128). In what ways is Cee transformed by the treatment, and the wise counsel, that Miss Ethel gives her?

11. Both Frank and Cee were eager to leave Lotus, Georgia, and never return. Why do they find it so comforting when they do go back? What is it about the place and people that feels to Frank “both fresh and ancient, safe and demanding” (p. 132) and makes Cee declare that this is where she belongs?

12. How have Miss Ethel and the other women in her community learned not just to live with but to rise above the limitations imposed on them? What moral code do they live by?

13. Why does Frank decide to give a proper burial to the man killed for sport—and whose undignified burial Frank and Cee witnessed as children—at the end of the novel? Why would this act be emotionally important for him? Why has Morrison structured the novel so that the end mirrors the beginning?

14. The flowering lotus is a plant of extraordinary beauty, but it is rooted in the muck at the bottom of ponds. In what ways is the fictional town of lotus, Georgia, like a lotus plant?

15. Why is it important that Frank does not resort to violence against Dr. Beau? In what ways has Frank been changed by the experiences he undergoes in the novel?

16. Much has been written about racism in America. What does Home add to our understanding of the suffering blacks endured during the late 1940s and early ‘50s? What is most surprising, and distressing, about the story Morrison tells?

Customer Reviews

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Home 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
mshoni More than 1 year ago
Toni Morrison's latest novel (or novella) is a compact tale tackling the broad subject of "home". Frank Money is a veteran returns to the US after serving in the Korean War. Like most Black soldiers of that time, he's returning to a country that could care less about his service and the trauma that he's experienced. Frank works hard at trying to achieve some level of normalcy and overcome the memories that he can't escape. He receives news that his younger sister, Cee, is in trouble and must pull himself together enough to come to her aid. As usual, Morrison's writing is beautiful and descriptive, making even the smallest detail appear paramount to the story. It's hard to believe that a book that is only about 160 pages long could contain a wealth of storytelling. The plight of Black people in the 1950's is fully explored here: returning soldiers, travelling the country under Jim Crow laws, medical research exploitation, and much more. Morrison's incredible talent assures that no matter how many physical pages there are, her stories are always fully told.
lindianajones More than 1 year ago
As usual, Toni Morrison does not disappoint in this her latest novel. I was pulled in immediately and unable to put the book down. So engrossed I was that I actually finished it in one sitting. It is not a long novel but it backs a great deal in its pages. Absolutely loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had finished reading the latest novella by Toni Morrison titled "Home". Short reading but she tells a good story. An interesting and engaging plot that provides an exciting description of the main characters. Toni Morrison's stories are getting shorter but quality of writing still exists in her fiction. The plot engaged me from the start. I had finished reading this novella in three sessions. It goes on for 105 pages or so, not a very long story. Succinct and colorful, descriptive and enticing, draws you in from the very beginning. A well spent time reading this book. The twists and turns surprise and enchant. What happens at the end? I wanted the story to go on, but the writer decided to end the story. There is nothing we can do but carry on the plot in our own minds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read, compelling narrative, beautiful language.
Nlen110 More than 1 year ago
I was excited to read this book because I had heard of Toni Morrison but had never read any of her books. While the story was good, I found it at times hard to follow. The character's names changed, as well as the setting, without me being aware. It wasn't until I read the summary at the end that I understood that. Maybe upon reading again, I would enjoy it more, but I was disappointed.
dayzd89 More than 1 year ago
Toni Morrison is a literary genius. "I can be miserable if I want to. You don't need to try and make it go away. It shouldn't go away. It's just as sad as it ought to be and I'm not going to hide from what's true just because it hurts." (from page 131) Why is it so hard to write about books that are so amazing? I always seem to have this issue with my favorite books. This is definitely the case with Toni Morrison's Home. Even though the novel is shy of 200 pages, the story inside it is so artfully crafted and brilliantly executed. The varying points of view and switch between first person and third person gives the reader different versions of the 'truth'. I've learned about eugenics in my women's studies classes. It's a horrible dark secret in American society that often gets overlooked or ignored. In a way, I am glad that Morrison decided to talk about this piece of history in her latest novel. I am disgusted that it happened, don't get me wrong, but I strongly believe in learning about any sort of discrimination. That's another reason why I admire Morrison so much. She links together all of the oppressions and shows how racism exists right along with sexism and classism. The voices of minorities have always been silenced, and there is great power in learning from the past. The other choice is to ignore it, but what does that do to a person? Frank is a perfect example of this. He may not be a perfect person, a perfect brother or boyfriend, but he is still human. He tries to ignore the past and it just haunts him and pulls him into a downward spiral. His post-traumatic stress is clear through his hallucinations and 'abnormal' reactions. When he finally says the truth, though, he is freed from that poisonous denial. I can't recommend this novel highly enough. If you love happy, care-free novels, then this isn't for you. You might say it's too depressing, too dark, too somber. But to her fans (like me) it is empowering and hopeful. The message here is really strong and inspiring. Nobody should make you feel like you're worth nothing. You might get discriminated against because of the color of your skin, or your gender, or the lack of money in your pockets, but those oppressors aren't better than you. No one is better than you. It takes a lot of courage to see that and accept it, but it's true.
pinkcrayon99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Look to yourself. You free. Nothing and nobody is obliged to save you but you.¿Frank Money is grappling with ¿normal life¿ after returning home from the Korean War. Morrison opens the story Frank having one of his many flashbacks from his childhood. The flashback happens while he is in restraints in a mental hospital. The war zone has basically made Frank a wanderer. While in a brief relationship with an ambitious young woman, Lily, Frank gets a cryptic message from his sister that sends him on a trip to try and rescue her before it is too late. ¿Frank alone valued her. While his devotion shielded her, it did not strengthen her.¿Frank and Ycidra ¿Cee¿ Money were the type of siblings that had that unconditional, mountain moving devotion. Their parents were present physically but not emotionally. A brief stay with a mean grandmother proved to have a lasting effect on them both. So they grew to only depend on each other. While Frank was in Korea, he lost his two best friends as casualties of war. Cee got married and moved to Atlanta. Cee¿s husband ran off and returning to Lotus was not an option for her. When Cee landed a job as a doctor¿s assistant with free room and board she was pretty sure it was a good, safe place. This doctor practiced ¿eugenics¿ which Cee didn¿t understand much about. The doctor¿s experimentation on Cee brought Frank back to her and sent them both to Lotus a place they both vowed to never return. It was in Lotus that they found the healing and strength to go on. When I realized I had been chosen to be receive an ARC of Toni Morrison¿s latest novel, I was ecstatic. There is a lot of Toni¿s ¿invisible ink¿ in Home. Overall, I would say that the story was steady and reminded me of, Song of Solomon. Initially the story was pretty captivating then it leveled off. Home had a lot of heart but not much depth.
MarkMeg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"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, broken, veteran of the Korean War, who, after traumatic experiences on the frint lines, find himself back in racist America with more 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 takes her back to the small Georgia town, Lotus, they come from, and that he has hated all his life. As Frank revisits his memories from childhood and the war that have left him questioning his sense of self, he discovers a profound courage he had thought he could never posess again." Marveloud description, racicism at its worst--dlearly delineated. At the end Frank and Cee Cee bury bones in the first quilt she has made--as a free thinking woman. Whose bones? At first I thought they were his friends who died in the war, but I don't know.
porch_reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Frank Money is a veteran of the Korean War. He arrives back in the US with the horrors of war fresh in his mind and is confronted by the prejudices faced by African Americans. It is against both of these demons that he struggles as he attempts to find his place. Although the story is told from an omniscient third-person perspective, short chapters told from Frank's first-person perspective are interspersed throughout the book. This technique, along with Morrison's ability to concisely convey emotions, results in a stark and compelling psychological and sociological study. In contrast to a trend toward lengthy books that might benefit from editing, each word in Home serves a purpose and carries its weight. These sentences alone, describing Frank's hometown of Lotus, are worth the "price of admission":"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."
SamSattler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have frequently heard Toni Morrison's new novel, Home, described as her most "accessible" work yet, and as someone who has read bits and pieces of several of Ms. Morrison's novels without up to now completing one of them, I have to agree with that assessment. Granted, Home, is hardly more than novella length and it can be finished in one sitting or two, but its theme and underlying message are still pure Toni Morrison. This one just might serve as the gateway novel that creates a number of new, previously reluctant, Toni Morrison fans.Home is largely Frank Money's story. Frank, a veteran of the recently ended Korean War, cannot face going home to his family. His two best friends from back home are dead, and Frank feels too much guilt about being the only one of the three to have survived ever to look their grieving mothers in the eyes. That guilt, topped off by misgivings about something he did in Korea, have turned Frank into a drunkard largely dependent upon the kindness of strangers for his survival. Frank Money is a bitter man, one growing ever more bitter because he knows that the country he risked his life for, and for which so many black men died, is every bit as racist as it was the day he left for Korea.As children, Frank and his sister, Cee, could not wait to leave their sleepy little Georgia town for what they were certain would be better lives than the ones they would leave behind. Both did leave that little town - and both barely survived the results. Frank was scarred by war; the inexperienced Cee, by the disastrous marriage she jumped into in order to fashion her own escape. When, desperate to save her life, Frank decides to bring his sister back to the old hometown, the healing will begin for both of them.For the most part, Morrison uses first person narration to tell Frank¿s story, and although the book's chapters alternate between narrators, Frank's is the point-of-view most often heard from. Particularly interesting, is the way that Morrison occasionally allows Frank to step out of character long enough to address the book's author and readers directly, reminding us that this is a mature man telling a story that happened long ago. He even corrects some of what the author wrote in earlier chapters - admitting that he purposely mislead her about certain events from his past. In this manner, the truth of Frank's story is revealed layer-by-layer, until the reader has a clear sense of who he is and how he got to be the way he is.Home is a story of one man's hard-earned redemption and how he finally found the home he had been searching for all his life. There is a lot going on between the covers of this slim book, and it should not be prejudged by its length - because it would be a shame to miss it.Rated at: 4.0
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She was in her office
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Ms Morrison never fails! Gotta love it!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you're like me and have already read you fair share of Toni Morrison's work, you won't be disappointed with "Home." It is yet another wonderful book that is complex and rich in it's brevity. Morrison has always written as if she wrote 400+ pages and then edits down to 100 making the reader really have to immerse themselves into the text to really see what Morrison is trying to say.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly over-rated in my humble opinion. Dis-jointed and fairy-tale like ending. Disappointed.
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Makes you realize that theres no place like home.