I have not read a mountain of books, but I’ve read a lot of the ones I have come across. I’ve never won anything before, I think. So I was pretty excited when BrunchoverBooks informed me that I had won a copy of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.
My first impression was that a lot of work must have gone into it. When I began to flip the pages, it was as if the words were jumping and screaming into my face read me read me. I’m not even laying it on thick. I immediately knew I was going to love it. It was going to be food. I was going to savor every sentence. Every phrase. Every word. To the last letter.
“History is storytelling…We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must always ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there, you begin to get a clear, yet still imperfect, picture.”
Homegoing is history merged with present day traced from the eighteenth-century with the story of Effia of Fanteland as the opening, followed by Esi of Asante. Effia and Esi are half-sisters, although they never get to meet. Effia marries an Englishman (the marriage is arranged) and goes to live in the Cape Coast Castle. Unknown to her, her half-sister Esi, is imprisoned in the women’s dungeon and is later sold into slavery.
The rest of the book trails the bloodline of both women; travelling through time while revealing, chapter by chapter, each descent until the story eventually converges back home.
The chapters in Homegoing are like standalone stories; each is somewhat conclusive, (because each chapter is built around a character and finishes its own story) yet in some way, not fully independent of the main story.
There are a lot of names, and they are not just passing through. Each has its own story trailed from either Effia or Esi, so you want to make sure you remember all of the names because you are going to build on them in subsequent chapters. It’ll be good to get some stick on pads or something to write on (I prefer stick on pads).
PLEASE. DO. NOT. WRITE. IN. THE. BOOK. I love it too much.
Homegoing leaves a lot of grim feelings. It has anger, violence, death, horrors, and fear. But it is also an incredible story; beautiful, sometimes haunting, but yes, expressively and captivatingly beautiful.
Being so richly told, I could put face to a lot of the characters and match them with history especially in the story of the Yaa Asantewaa War.
My favorite person in the book was/is Akua, aka Crazy Woman; haunted by a firewoman, ends up burning her two daughters to death, and leaving a horrid scar on her son’s face. Her story is disturbing, sad yet strong, and she moved me in many ways more than the others.
On the downside though, I would have liked to return to the stories of some of the characters in the book, but the structure makes it impossible because after each chapter, there’s only a building on so you’re kind of forced out of one storyline to the next.
Aside that, it is such great story-telling by Yaa Gyasi! Beautiful exploration of how slave trade affects one family and what it costs it. A lot of research must have gone into this book, obviously. I was in no hurry to finish it, yet I couldn’t put it down. I’m pretty much not getting over it anytime soon.
You really should read this in 2016 if you haven’t yet.