Monday, January 16, 2017

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi Book Review


Homegoing is a rich debut novel that follows the lives of two half sisters: Effia and Esi. Both their lives change in different ways when they reach the Cape Coastal Castle in Ghana. Effia lives upstairs, the wife of a white English governor who's in the slave trading business. Esi is downstairs, in the dungeon, waiting to go to the American South as a slave. The story follows the descendants of each woman, alternating from one of Effia's descendants to one of Esi's, going down through six more generations. Effia's side of the family stay mainly in Ghana, while Esi's side are in America. Both have their successes and struggles, from such issues as slavery in America, colonisation, drug addiction, sexuality, violence, death, doing what's right for you vs what's expected of you.

I'm just blown away by this book. There's a lot of hype surrounding it but it lives up to this hype. For such a short book (compared to the amount of people's stories we read) Yaa Gyasi packs in so much depth and detail. When it comes to multiple perspectives, sometimes the story or character development can suffer but I never found this the case. If there was ever one person's story or an event I wanted more to know more about, usually I found out more when it came to the next descendant's story.Through the generations there's an importance on telling stories and we get to see moments in history and how they impacted that character's life. We see family traits and fears pass through the generations, sometimes without them knowing that they affected the previous generations. This is especially the case when it comes to the themes of fire and water and I loved seeing how this theme crops up with Effia and Esi and with the final generation. And if the sheer number of characters sounds overwhelming (there's 12 perspectives after all!), I didn't think it was confusing and there's a family tree within in the book to help you keep track. With some many of the issues I mentioned above being bleak, this book isn't the happiest at times and it can be a bit tough (I was describing the book to my fiance and he said 'this doesn't sound cheerful at all!') but the book warmed my heart while reading it and has had me thinking about it days after finishing it. Yaa Gyasi's writing is superb and such a delight. I was interested in each character along the way and looked forward to picking up this book every night. Believe the hype, it's well worth picking up!

I received this e-book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I’m not required to post a review on here and all thoughts are my own.

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