I didn’t want this story to end. I wanted more, but at the same time it was perfect, the ending a circle coming to a close. Yaa Gyasi has created a masterpiece that scans generations of one family, violently divided into two branches, one remaining in Africa, one forced into US soil.
We start with Effia, and Esi, half-sisters who never knew each other, and from there onwards each chapter becomes the story of one of their descendants, spanning nearly three centuries and two countries on different continents. We are walked through Asante and Fante cultures and lands in Ghana, and through the slave trade, starting from the capturing and selling of people on the Gold Coast, and the endurance and treatment of slaves in the Deep South. We move up through the decades, where free men and women are still kidnapped and sold, and where segregation still permeates through cities where it never supposedly existed. At the same time we see the colonization and then independence of Ghana, and the scars left by the centuries on the current land. All throughout the novel the themes of loss, of feeling lost, of strength, and of a feeling of never belonging permeate... And how the despicable actions of men centuries ago created deep scars that will continue to run through countless families forever.
I think what I mainly found so incredible in this novel is the sheer amount of content that the author manages to put into just 300 pages, while still maintaining a completely readable and accessible novel. I never once felt confused, and always felt like each person’s story was as compelling as the last. I think Yaa Gyasi accomplished an amazing feat, there is so much important information nestled within each page, and information that we should never forget. Yes, you are going to feel very uncomfortable at times, even want to put the book down and wonder how on earth humans could be just so terrible, but the book is based on truth, and in my opinion therefore a must read.
I chose this as part of my #ReadAfrica2018 (which will most likely move on to #ReadAfrica2019) challenge, and chose it because Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and I thought I would hopefully learn more about the country. This book gave me so much more than that. I did have to put it down for a few days a couple of times, mainly because of the current political climate and the subject matter being so heavy, but it didn’t stop me from diving back in again without missing a beat.
All I can say is read this book, please. Yaa Gyasi’s ability to create characters with such depth that stick with you forever, even though their presence only lasted a chapter is amazing. So much talent and beauty in her writing!