Quick Review: Follow the descendants of two sisters, whose lives take different paths, through eras of great turmoil in Ghana and the US.
I rarely read a book that vibrates my heart, but this shook my soul. I knew it would be good because of all the hype both critical and popular, but I was thoroughly unprepared for the depth of Gyasi’s abilities. It is rare writers produce such a masterful work and even rarer it happens in their debut novel.
Beginning in Ghana there are two sisters who never meet, and their lives go in very different directions from an early age. One marries a white man and her descendants remain in Ghana for many generations; the other is sold into slavery in America.
Chapters are snapshots of lives for each generation alternating between the sisters’ descendants. The stories never have fulfillment or completion, but each has a depth allowing for an emotional connection to each person’s struggle. Each struggle the character goes through represents a similar struggle hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people experienced. The realness is palpable and heartbreaking and absolutely necessary.
Throughout the entire novel and each chapter there is an ominous air penetrating every corner of the narrative, but Gyasi is able to weave in tiny traces of hope, which is a human necessity to carry on through the darkest times.
Gyasi explores the history of the slave trade with roots in the Gold Coast and follows it through the history of Ghana as well as the history of America. Slavery, rape, murder, mining, Jim Crow, police, drugs, passing, so on and so forth.
It is an epic story of how people are formed and shaped by their pasts and their ancestors pasts. Every action cumulates and snowballs to create opportunities and circumstances which affect those who follow in our footsteps.
I absolutely cannot recommend this novel enough. Homegoing is phenomenal and important and entertaining and impactful. It’s a novel that will not leave you quietly.
“He looked at her like her body was his shame.”
“the methods of gathering slaves had become so reckless, that many of the tribes had taken to marking their children’s faces so that they would be distinguishable.”
“watching this man she’s been told is her husband become the animal he’s been told he is.”
“They couldn’t tell one black face from another.”
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Publisher: Vintage Books