Cover image for Slow way home : a novel
Slow way home : a novel
Morris, Michael, 1966-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
[San Francisco, Calif.] : HarperSanFrancisco, [2003]

Physical Description:
280 pages ; 24 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.6 15.0 78293.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Library

On Order



On the surface, Brandon Willard seems like your average eight-year-old boy. He loves his mama, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and G. I. Joe. But Brandon's life is anything but typical.

Wise beyond his years, Brandon understands he's the only one in this world he can count on. It's an outlook that serves him well the day his mama leaves him behind at the Raleigh bus station and sets off to Canada with "her destiny" -- the latest man that she hopes will bring her happiness. The day his mother leaves, Brandon takes the first step toward shaping his own destiny. Soon he sends himself spending pleasant days playing with his cousins on his grandparents' farm and trying to forget the past. In the safety of that place, Brandon finally is able to trust the love of an adult to help iron out the wiry places until his nerves are as steady as any other boy's.

But when Sophie Willard shows up a year later with a determined look in her eye and a new man in tow, Brandon's grandparents ignore a judge's ruling and flee the state with Brandon. Creating a new life and identity in a small Florida town, Brandon meets the people who will fill him with self-worth and self-respect. He slowly becomes involved with "God's Hospital," a church run by the gregarious Sister Delores, a woman who is committed to a life of service for all members of the community, black and white, regardless of some townsfolk's disapproval.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Eight-year-old Brandon Willard has grown increasingly fearful of his mother's boyfriend, who has a quick temper and even quicker fists. When the couple decides to move to Canada, Brandon is handed a bus ticket and told to head to his grandparents' farm in North Carolina. Although Brandon is devastated by his mother's abandonment, his grandparents prove to be loving caretakers. But when his mother returns, his life is once again plunged into chaos; this time, his grandparents take drastic action, and rather than obey the court order to hand Brandon over to his mother, they abscond to Florida with new identities. There they meet larger-than-life black preacher Sister Delores and become involved with her congregation at God's Hospital, where Brandon acquires a deep faith and the knowledge that there are many people who love him. Although some of the characters seem barely to rise above stereotypes, and racism and other issues are treated superficially, this is a compulsively readable novel with many fine passages on the importance of home and the comforts of faith. --Joanne Wilkinson Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

A Southern boy becomes a pawn in a dicey custody battle in Morris's uneven second novel, which begins when eight-year-old Brandon Willard's drug addict mother, Sophie, runs off to Canada with the latest man in her life and leaves Brandon with his grandparents in North Carolina. Things unravel with the boyfriend in a hurry, but Sophie's parents refuse to return Brandon, intending to provide him with a stable home. After a court battle, Sophie is awarded custody, but Brandon's grandparents take off with the boy and head for southern Florida, changing their last name to Davidson. Trouble follows the trio after they settle down in a remote fishing village. The African-American church they join is burned down by the Klan after their ill-advised attempt at integration, and Brandon is interviewed by a local TV news crew about the incident. The publicity results in the arrest of his grandparents, and Brandon is returned to Sophie, who has yet another erratic, dangerous boyfriend in tow. In a far-fetched plot twist, the boy is rescued from her clutches by a North Carolina state senator, who remembers Brandon from a school class visit and decides to take him in. Morris's storytelling is solid in the early going, and he makes a credible effort to capture a child's viewpoint, but many of the sets pieces are insistently maudlin. Questionable plot twists-would Brandon's grandparents really leave everything behind?-and treacly writing make this a lackluster follow-up to Morris's well-regarded debut, A Place Called Wiregrass. (Sept. 4) Forecast: A 14-city Southern author tour should help push regional sales, but even those who made A Place Called Wiregrass a surprise hit (40,000 copies were sold in less than a year) may find Morris's second novel a disappointment. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Will eight-year-old Brandon ever have a permanent, happy home? When his mother runs off with her boyfriend, she sends him to her parents on the bus and disappears, but later, when he has been doing well with them, she threatens to take him back. To keep him safe, the grandparents run from the courts and move further south, where they make friends with both black people and rednecks. Realistic dialogue, including the "n" word, accurately portrays both the integration problems and the role of the church in the South of the early 1970s. The use of the first person enables readers to feel the boy's pain, determination, and desire not to be pitied. He must find strength within himself. Readers find out what happens to these involving characters in an epilogue. A touching, tender story for fans of Nicholas Sparks.-Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Slow Way Home A Novel Chapter One Nana always said the Lord works in mysterious ways. Every time she would say that, I would think of Darrell Foskey. If it hadn't been for Darrell, I don't know where I might've ended up. Probably tossed around in a system of Foster homes just like the clothes did in the dryer the night we first met Darrell. He came into our lives thanks to a jammed quarter at the Laundromat. As the night manager, Darrell saved the quarter and won my mama's heart all at the same time. I was eight that summer day in 1971 when he moved to the apartment with us. The window air conditioner made a rattling sound as it fought the heat that Darrell let through the door. He put down a water-stained box filled with records long enough to snatch the G.I. Joe figure from my hands. The smell of his soured tongue rolled over me the same way he rolled G.I. Joe's head between his fingers. "Boy, what you doing playing with dolls?" Red lines outlined brown pupils and when he smiled I saw the chipped tooth that he claimed was a sign of toughness. "Hey, just kidding, big guy." When Darrell flung the action figure, I jumped to avoid being hit by G.I. Joe. Little did I know then how I'd keep on jumping to avoid Darrell. Mama was as shocked as I was seven weeks later when Darrell quit his job at the Laundromat and announced he was taking us out for supper. "Daddy, that's what I love about you. You just go with the gut," Mama said. She nibbled his ear and talked in that baby way I hated. "That man said he'll be at JC's party tonight with a new stash. Let's go on down there, Daddy." They didn't see me roll my eyes big as Dallas right in front of them. He sure wasn't her daddy, and I'd throw up before I was fixing to call him any such thing. Before I could ease out of the beanbag and make it to my room, I heard Mama giggle. "Boy, go on in there and get ready," Darrell yelled. "You gonna get yourself a steak dinner tonight." Darrell was still going on about Canada and all the good jobs he could get working the pipelines. The pretty waitress reappeared and put another drink before him. Although I couldn't bring myself to look her directly in the eye, I liked the way she smiled and winked at me. Darrell licked the juice remaining on the steak knife and washed it down with a loud smack. More than usual I was nervous around Darrell tonight. Not so much because of his erratic behavior -- I was getting used to the outbursts. But the restaurant was too much. Casting my eyes across the room, I watched a group of women Nana's age laugh while one of them opened brightly wrapped gifts. I couldn't help wondering how they would take Darrell if he got on one of his "spells," as Mama called them. The more glasses of gold liquid Darrell consumed, the more he bragged about all the gold he could find in Canada. "There's an ol' boy who used to work with me already up there. They tell me he's making fifteen dollars an hour on that pipeline." Darrell licked the excess from the A-1 bottle top and slammed it on the table. I flinched and looked over at the ladies, who were so caught up admiring a gift of crocheted dinner mats that they didn't notice. The pretty waitress appeared again and poured tea into my glass. "Boy, you best leave off the tea and go to studying your plate," Darrell said with a point of his knife. The waitress glanced at Darrell and then smiled back at me. "Go on, Brandon, and eat your steak now," Mama said. She lit a cigarette and gazed across the restaurant. "Don't start no problems." Picking at the slab of meat surrounded by pink juice, I rested my case. Mama knew I wanted chicken. But Darrell was determined and ordered steak for all of us. "I'm not very hungry." "I'm not very hungry," Darrell whined and squinched up his ruddy face. "What's the matter, this place ain't good enough for you? Not good enough for the little king?" I stiffened my back and dug my nails into the vinyl seat. Trying to gauge how to respond, I looked at Mama, but she was staring at her reflection in the tinted window and flicking the ends of her newly blonde hair. "Just eat the steak, Brandon." "We ain't leaving until you eat ever bit of that steak, you hear me." Elbows planted on the plastic red-and-white tablecloth, Darrell enforced his message with another point of the knife. "It's got icky stuff coming out of it." I followed the tip of the knife up to the brown eyes. It was that look. The same vengeful stare that Mama excused as the dark side in each of the two men she officially met at the Justice of the Peace plus the four she had let in without signed papers. The same dark side that made Darrell throw plates, punch holes in our apartment wall, and kick in my bedroom door. Mama blew cigarette smoke at the plastic gold lamp dangling above the table. "Brandon, just don't, okay." Darrell threw his napkin on the plate and steak juice stained the once white material. "Most kids'd be happy to eat at a nice restaurant, but no, not you. Not the king. You little no good piece of ..." "Oh, Daddy, don't. Don't get all riled up. Not tonight. He's just being a kid." Mama leaned into Darrell and whined, "Come on, shug ..." Slow Way Home A Novel . Copyright © by Michael Morris. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Slow Way Home: A Novel by Michael Morris All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.