This is an incredibly hard review to write. Perhaps because the content, reviewing Homegoing ,by Yaa Gyasi, is unbelievably traumatic – drawn from the very evils of human nature, the heartlessness of slavery, and the devastation of racism in the United States. As a white woman, I am cautious about my opinions of this book. I must admit that after closing its pages, I frankly stated to a friend, “I’m not sure it’s in my power to review this book.” So this review is more of a reaction, specifically mine, to the prose and the content, and less a critical reading of Gyasi’s debut novel.
A lyrical story, Homegoing traces half sisters, both born in 18th century Ghana, and their future kin as one is taken on a slave ship and the other remains in her home country. Weaving back and forth between men and women of the new generations in both the United States and Ghana up to the present day, Gyasi explores the differences experiences shape the path of human history. Each chapter is a snapshot of a complicated life, a short story that you never want to end.
I absolutely loved this book. I feel in love with each character, amazed that Gyasi could move so seamlessly between countries, generations, and new historical timelines. The personalities depicted, the hardships wrought, the hope, the faith: every powerful word Gyasi wrote, I held on to, desperate to see a better future for these characters and their future families. I have passed this book to every woman I know, and I find their unanimous response is one of absolute fascination. But it is not an easy read: vivid descriptions of beatings, traumatic experiences line the pages; readers will feel both heartsick and homesick as they move onward through time. It is an ambitious but wholly captivating novel that left me reeling. A must read.
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