Book Review: “Home” by Toni Morrison

home

Last year, I read my first Toni Morrison book: Beloved. It was extremely well-written but deeply heavy in subject matter, so I had to take some time before I was ready to dive into another Morrison novel. Home is the story of Korean War veteran Frank and his quest to save his sister, Cee, and somehow find his place in a world that he doesn’t recognize. Coming in at less than 150 pages, it’s a short and fast read.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What Home gets right: Cee’s struggles as a black woman trying to support herself were portrayed with compassion and understanding. Sure, Cee makes some honest mistakes, but by the end of the novel she has grown up and will hopefully be able to heal from her trauma.

Frank’s and Cee’s stories are sad ones, but Home ends on a hopeful note. Their sibling bond is powerful in a world where relationships between many men and women are difficult and even abusive.

What Home does wrong: This is a Toni Morrison novel, so if you thought you were going to get out of this reading unscathed and completely emotionally sound, you’re wrong. Morrison really surprised me with one of the plot points, and this unfortunate surprise made the rest of the book hard to read. However, having read Beloved, I knew that Morrison often tackles uncomfortable and disturbing issues in her books. Should have seen it coming!

Who should read Home: Readers who are interested in history, veterans, African American experiences in the U.S., and superb literary writing.

Who shouldn’t read Home: Readers who are looking for lighter subjects and writing styles.

 

Home is currently available at the library.

Content note: flashbacks include a disturbing scene, and Cee is horribly mistreated at the hands of a corrupt doctor. Reader discretion is advised.

Featured Book: “How To Decorate”

how to decorate

If you’re looking for a book with beautiful photos, watercolor typography, and tons of do-it-yourself ideas, How To Decorate is the right choice for you. The book’s author, Shannon Fricke, leads workshops on decorating for beginners, and How To Decorate collects her wisdom from these events and presents them in an easy-to-access format. Along with Fricke’s advice, the book is packed with full-color photos from photographer Prue Ruscoe.

How To Decorate starts off by emphasizing the importance of your own workspace. Before you can begin to decorate your house or workplace, you need a personal space to begin brainstorming and collecting supplies. Fricke writes:

Fashion your workspace exactly as you need it to operate for you. Always underpin it with a degree of order, and then layer it as colourfully and creatively as you like.

Fricke encourages her readers to take it slow, and to develop a plan before just buying furniture to fill up a room. Decorating your home is about telling your story- and that may look different for each individual. While decorating according to what’s currently in fashion can be fun, it is not necessarily long-lasting. Fricke suggests instead to decorate with people in mind: who will use this space? What do they require to feel comfortable or inspired?

Once you’ve begun answering questions about your lifestyle, you can move on to more hands-on brainstorming. By gathering different items- color swatches that you’re drawn to, pieces of ribbon or cloth, etc.- you can create a moodboard. Moodboards help set the tone of your decorating, and can bring together disparate ideas into one cohesive brand. They can also be made virtually, whether on Pinterest, Microsoft Publisher, or a blog.

pex decorate

Finally, Fricke elaborates on how to make a floor plan for each room of your home and how to use the existing architecture to your advantage. Everything from color theory to floor types is examined and explained. Fricke warns the reader to cull items before bringing in new concepts, since it’s easier to work with less.

How To Decorate ends on a positive note, with the mantra “When we decorate our home thoughtfully and with love (not necessarily with large funds), we’re creating a space we love living in, a home with meaning, a house that feels comfortable, a place to feel at peace with ourselves.” Pick up this book if you’re looking to feel refreshed in your space!