Homegoing Rating: 5/5
Homegoing Synopsis: Effia and Esi are half sisters in 18th century Ghana that will never meet. One will marry a white Englishman and the other will be captured and sold into slavery. This novel follows the different paths of the two families. One surviving the harsh life as blacks in America and the other facing the ever changing world of the Gold Coast. The stories descendants of the two sisters are told through each chapter, capturing what it meant to be black on the two continents and the way that slavery has and forever will be something we live with. From the 18th century all the way to the 21st century.
How do you even review a book like this? It’s beyond words. It is powerful, emotional, and beautifully written. I’m not sure it’s fair for me to write a review for this novel. I was hesitant going into this novel because I’m not a big fan of generational/family stories. I don’t really like them. But I had heard of so many good things on IG that I had to read it.
The chapters are about 20-30 pages each and reflect on one member of either family. How in the world Gyasi manages to create such depth to each character and suck you into their world in such a few pages is beyond me. I don’t know how this kind of connection is even possible. I wanted to know more about each character and their circumstances. Each story left me wanting to know more about the person, specifically what happened after, but it’s not given. I think that’s part of the meaning of the chapters and what made it move.
- Two Differing POV: I think what really made this stand out to me was that Gyasi has a lineage in Ghana and in the United States living through the same time periods. Neither side of the family came out on top or faired better than the other. I found that incredibly potent. I learned a lot about Ghanan history that I didn’t know and actually researched a little outside of this novel to learn more.
- Characterization: You get 20-30 pages for each character, but don’t you think for a second that you’re not going to know that character. The development is incredibly deep for the few moments that you spend together. It is incredible.
- Writing: This book sucks you in. Yes, you are in a new setting/time era with new characters every single chapter, but don’t think that you’re going to be missing out. The way that Gyasi writes just brings the story to life and you’re in that moment. Then when you finally settle in, she rips the rug from under your feet and you’re moving on. Plus the way that Gyasi uses this to argue that slavery was disruptive to the memories of the people it affected on both sides of the Atlantic was profound.
- That it Ends: I want more. I want a novel for each one of these family members. How dare Gyasi make me fall in love with them in such few pages and rip them away from me. I believe that it was what Gyasi was going for. We don’t get to decide the length of time each person gets on earth or the impression that they leave. Just like the length of the chapters,
Long Story Short
Do I recommend this book? Yes. Borrow it from the library, buy it from a bookstore, pester a friend who has it. I don’t care how you go about getting this novel, just that you do get this novel. Read it and treasure it. I know that this book is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. How it so succinctly addresses the legacy of slavery on both sides of the Atlantic. That this awful practice destroyed families and memories. How slavery created a longing to know.
I’m not black, so I cannot speak for anything but how I felt reading it. That’s not necessarily the best thing to go off of, but I came out having learned something, felt something, and with a desire to read more about this. If anything Homegoing puts an incredibly humanizing lenses on slavery and the lasting affect it has had on our world. Please pick up this novel if you can and read it.
I was gifted this book by a fellow bookstagrammer (@_coffeeandreads).
Here is the Amazon Link (I am NOT affiliated with Amazon)
What were your thoughts on Homegoing? Let me know. I need to discuss it with others!!
All opinions are of my own are not reflective of anyone else. I buy/loan all of the books I review unless specified and I only give my 100% true opinion on them.
If you enjoyed this novel I would also recommend The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson. The Kindest Lie follows Ruth as she tries to find the child she gave up as a teenager in her small, industrial hometown that she left behind years ago. This novel analyzes poverty, racism, and motherhood in such a powerful way. Read my full review here.