Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

homegoing cover by yaa gyasi
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Do you ever borrow books from the library (or buy books) because you recognize its cover? I tend to do that when I feel uninspired to read the books I own. I picked Homegoing up because of the cover and I took it home excited to discover its content. I love the feeling of getting into books without knowing anything about them in advance. I love the anticipation, the possibility of stumbling upon a rare gem among the myriad of uninspiring reads. This one is a gem and one everyone should read. After I started reading, its cover began to pop up again and again in articles and BookTube reviews and everyone raved about it. I don’t remember seeing a single bad review. It is one of the best books published in 2016.

Homegoing is the debut novel of Yaa Gyasi, a Ghanaian-American writer, born in 1898. It is a great debut novel and I can’t wait to read more from her. The novel is a historical fiction, in which each chapter tells the story of the different descendants of an African woman named Maame, starting with her two daughters. These daughters are separated, one remains in Africa and marries a white man in charge of the slave trade and lives in the Castle where slaves are kept and then shipped off to America. And the other daughter ends up in the dungeons under the castle and is shipped off to become a slave on America. Each of the following chapters tell the stories of the descendants of these two women up to the present day.

My favorite smoothie (mango and banana) accompanied by one of my favorite books! #homegoing #yaagyasi

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The stories are easy to read and captivating. Even though the stories of each of these descendants are short, there is so much packed into these short pages that you feel like you’ve read hundreds of pages about these characters and you know them inside out. You feel involved and you live through their heartbreak. You want to keep turning the pages and almost race through the chapters just to see what’s going to happen to the next character.

I loved the glimpse into the life of these characters, and it was amazing and heartbreaking and the same time to see the way their lives unfurled due to circumstances they had no control over. Our lives are shaped by our surroundings more than we care to admit.

The book gives you an insight into how the slave trade came to be, it is a perspective I have not encountered before. I have never read a book from the perspective of characters which were about to become slaves. I have never read of what happened in Africa during the slave trade. I only ever knew of stories of slaves already living in America. So I guess it is about time to stumble upon something which shows also the other end of that story.

I feel as though I could read a whole book on each of these characters, but maybe the connection between them is what makes this novel so great. Seeing how their lives unfurl knowing their point of departure and the passing of time and history unfolding.

The family tree at the beginning of the novel was a great idea. I kept flipping back to it to freshen up my memory of past stories.

At time the stories were quite brutal and there is no shying away from what happened to these people, no sugarcoating at all. But through all of the harshness and sorrow there’s always some warmth and good happening. Because how else can you keep on living if not by appreciating the good in our lives?

This book will give you a unique inside into the slave trade and characters who lived through racism and violence. It’s a book which will make you feel deeply and want to keep on reading. It is an exceptional debut novel and I can’t wait to read more of her works. Hopefully I won’t need to wait for long.

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