Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing is a multigenerational saga that follows the lives of two half sisters and their descendants from Ghana, Africa to America over three hundred years.

Born in different villages in the 1700s, half sisters Effie and Esi live two completely separate lives; Effie marries a wealthy Englishman and lives a life of grandeur in the Cape Coast Castle, while Esi, unbeknownst to her sister, is imprisoned in the castle’s dungeon to be sold as a slave. Told in two threads, with alternating chapters between the sisters’ offsprings. One thread follows Effie’s multiracial offspring and the warfare in Ghana, as the nation wrestles with slave trade and British colonization, and the other thread, Esi’s, follows her generations as they settle in America, from the plantations, coal mines, jazz clubs, to the present day. Throughout the generations, both bloodlines endure hardship as they establish their lives and their identities.

Readers don’t spend much time with each individual character, but the breadth and scope of the story is mind-blowing. With each new chapter, the reader gets a glimpse of how the injustices of the past, whether they’re rooted in American slavery or African colonialism, build on each other to affect the future.

Gyasi’s debut novel is beautifully written, a stark contrast to the harsh injustices her characters endure. This is a powerful story that gives readers a new perspective on racial history.

(This was a difficult read on the ugliness our African American ancestors had to endure, however I highly recommend this novel.)

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