Friday, February 14, 2020

Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Title: Homegoing
AuthorYaa Gyasi
Year Published: 2019


Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 315
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)Ghana, USA (AL, CA, MD, NY)

FTC Disclosure: I received this book as a gift

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.

Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

Review: I meant to read this book ages ago and never got around to it. Now, the online book group for our local paper is reading it this month so that gave me the push I needed. I am so glad that I got this nudge as this book is really good.

When I first read the description, I couldn't figure out how the author was going to cover so many generations of two families in only 300 pages, but the answer is she does it masterfully. Each generation has two people who are featured, one from Effia's line and one from Esi's, bringing the story forward in time. Each character knows of those who have come before him or her and so the thread of connection is there. I was really glad for the family tree at the beginning of the book and referred to it as I began each new chapter.

The author has obviously done her historical research as she tells the reader Effia's story from Ghans in the mid-1700s through that country's history to the present. Esi's story begins in the same place and time, but within a generation takes place in the southern slave-holding states of the United States of America. Each generation experiences their historical era in a way that weaves the personal with the historical in a poetic way.

Challenges for which this counts: 
For the Pop Sugar challenge, this book is one that I meant to read in 2019.

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