by Yaa Gyasi

Overview: The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Dale Israel (12/27/16): Yaa Gyasi's debut novel, Homegoing, was a captivating tale of two half-sisters living in the 18th century. Selected by NPR as it's Debut Novel of the Year, it chronicles the lives of the descendants of these two half-sisters beginning in Africa,crossing continents and describing the lives of 7 generations. I loved this book! Ms. Gyasi writes like a pro, using beautiful prose to engage the reader and takes you on a journey you don't want to end. Many readers may not enjoy the fact that each chapter is told from the perspective from various characters throughout the book but I happen to enjoy this style. There are also some difficult passages describing the treatment of slaves. Reading this book on my Kindle made it impossible to refer back to the family tree which would've been helpful considering the number of characters presented in the novel. Readers would be wise to copy the family tree for reference. In summary, this was a compelling novel that kept my attention throughout. I highly recommend it and agree with NPR that this is indeed a wonderful story.
Rating: *****

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