Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.
Look at that gorgeous cover! Who wouldn’t want to read this book? I was looking for diverse reads when I came across Homegoing and I instantly knew I wanted to read this debut. Historical fiction plus family saga, what else can I ask for?
I’m proud to say that Homegoing was as wonderful as everyone said it was. After some disappointing reads, I wanted something that truly captivated me and this novel certainly delivered. It was unique and colorful, tragic and unforgettable. It is one of those books that would make great book club choices and I felt like I could recommend it to almost anyone.
As you can see by reading the blurb, this is the story of two half-sisters. But this book is not only about Effia and Esi: Homegoing also follows the lives of their sons and daughters, from the XVIII century up until the present day. Each chapter features a completely different character and, after a brief introduction, Yaa Gyasi explains how they got where they are and what happens next.
As in any similar book, you will probably love some storylines more than others, but the truth is that I actually thought each one of the characters and their lives had something special that felt worth reading. I particularly enjoyed Effia’s chapter, as well as some dark bits featuring a couple of slaves in the American south, a coal miner and his wife, a heroin junkie and much more.
Don’t worry about mixing up some characters and timelines: Homegoing features a detailed family tree so you can go back and check it out whenever it’s necessary. For those reading the e-book, I recommend taking a photo as soon as you start reading.
Homegoing was everything I wanted from a family saga and more. Days after, I’m still thinking about its characters and the beautiful prose, wondering how people could be so cruel just because of someone’s skin color. This is an impressive book that everyone with an interest in history should read immediately. It already feels like a classic.
2017, Penguin // ARC