Published by: Bond Street Books a division of Penguin Randon House Canada Limited
Published on: June 7th 2016
Historical, Literary Fiction
Homegoing is a profound generational saga following the descendants of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi. The sisters live in different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana where Effia is married off to British slave trader and Esi is sold into slavery. The British colonization of Ghana and war between villages will shape the descendants of Effia’s and the affects of slavery and racial discrimination will shape Esi’s.
Each chapter is from a different characters perspective, so in total their are 14 characters. Yaa Gyasi is a skillful writer to create such real characters in such a short time we spend with them. Obviously I not going to give an overview and my thoughts on all of them but I thought it is important that I do Effia and Esi.
- Effia Otcher was born on the same night a fire raged her village and because of that the villagers say she was born of the fire. She grows up unloved and beaten by her mother and the beatings are only made worse as she grows more beautiful and eventually is known as Effia the beauty. She is an obedient daughter despite her mother’s beatings and always tries to make herself seem small as to not be noticed. I liked Effia’s character and felt for her and her terrible living situation.
- Esi Asare birth was greatly celebrated by her parents and grew up in the warmth of her parents love. Esi is spoiled by he parents love but remains sweet. I also liked Esi character and would have liked to kept on reading her story.
I listened to the audiobook and read along with the narrator because I wanted to get the names correct, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pronounce them correctly even though it is just in my head. I did like this approach to reading the story even though that is the reason why it took me so long to finish. I started this back in April and finished it in June, for whatever reason I found it difficult to set a time to put the disc in and read. So, it wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying the book because I did, very much so. I believe this is the type of book you take your time with anyways, to allow yourself to be fully immersed into the story.
Homegoing is not your typical novel, there are two veins to the story, and each vein flows into one short story, following a different generation to the next And even though each descendant’s story is complete and is wrapped up nicely to get to the heart of the story the book must be read as a whole. It is ambitious to write a novel like this for any writer but especially a debut one but Yaa Gyasi executes it like a pro.
“I love my people, James,” she said, and his name on her tongue was indescribably sweet. “I am proud to be Asante, as I am sure you are proud to be Fante, but after I lost my brothers, I decided that as for me, Akosua, I will be my own nation.”
- I would have liked to have seen a date at the beginning of eachchapter. That way you know what time period you will be in before you start reading that characters story.
- Since each chapter is a new POV you don’t get to spend much time with the characters as much as I would have liked to have.
- The ending was a little too perfect and Hollywood-esque but I don’t hate it.
“The white man’s god is just like the white man. He thinks he is the only god, just like the white man thinks he is the only man. But the only reason he is god instead of Nyame or Chukwu or whoever is because we let him be. We do not fight him. We do not question him. The white man told us he was the way, and we said yes, but when has the white man ever told us something was good for us and that thing was really good?”
- I loved the writing style. She is a natural and I was captivated by every word.
- I thought that each character’s narrative was well done. I never felt confused by who descendant it was. And even though I could have kept reading their story I thought that each chapter ended perfectly.
- Even though it is a slower paced novel I never felt bored and interested in reading the next generations story.
- I appreciate that the author was able to write a story about slavery and racial issues without sounding preachy
- It is a strong and impactful novel that often times had me in tears by the injustice of it all.
“What I know now, my son: Evil begets evil. It grows. It transmutes, so that sometimes you cannot see that the evil in the world began as the evil in your own home.”
It is hard to believe that this is a debut novel, it is well crafted and a beautiful work of literature. I highly recommend you pick this book up if you haven’t already.