Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi Book Review

21. March 2017 Reviews 0

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.
Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi’s magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable like characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.
My Review
Homegoing was a great book that inspired me in many ways, but I will get into that later. Homegoing follows the lineage of Maame. Maame has two daughters Effia and Esi. Effia and Esi are sisters that have never met and only learn about each other later in their childhood. The sisters were born at different times in Africa. One of the sisters was separated from their mother. Effia was later sold to a British soldier where she began her lineage. Esi, on the other hand, was sold into slavery and sent to the United States where she began her lineage. 
Gyasi takes you a journey through time while telling the story of a different member of Maame’s family in each chapter. One journey is in Africa while the other is in the United States.  Although you may think that one journey may have been harder than the other, living in this day in age I found both journeys hard to bare at times. I wanted at times to stop reading and at other times I wanted more. Just like in real life happy endings are not guaranteed for everyone.
The things that each family member seemed to want was freedom in their own right. Here is a chart of what I think those freedoms might have been.
Effie freedom from her stepmother
Esi freedom from her guilt
Quey freedom to love who he wanted
Ness freedom to be a great mother (providing freedom to her son)
James freedom to marry who he wanted and live life the way he wanted
Kojo freedom to raise his family safely wherever he wanted
Abena freedom from an unhealthy relationship
H freedom from his guilt to forgive his past mistakes and start fresh
Akua freedom from her dreams
Willie freedom to sing
Yaw freedom from his permanent scar and the history behind it
Sonny freedom from his feeling of helplessness which later changes to a freedom from dependency on drugs
Marjorie freedom to live without fear
Marcus freedom to live without fear


In the end I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and I would definitely recommend it. It has motivated me to take a look at my own family history and see how far back I can go. I’m sure I’m not the only African American descendant that has thought about looking in their history but was discouraged by knowing that it will probably completely disappear by the time you get to your great great great grandfather or grandmother. I took an African American Literature class in college where my professor asked the class to write a paper and show evidence on how far back we could go into our family tree. I chose my maternal side and got lots of information from my now deceased grandfather. I made it all the way to his grandfather! I just hope I can dig it all back up again. Maybe I’ll keep you guys informed through my own journey.

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