Ask me how I know I’ve read an amazing book—if after I read the last word of the book, I want to start all over again. That was exactly how I felt after reading Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and yes, I know I’m nearly a year late to the party. Forgive me, fellow bibliophiles. Deal mercifully with me.
The plot was absolutely fantastic. A historical fiction set in Ghana and the US, the book paints vivid pictures of the cruelty and darkness of slave trade in Africa as well as slavery and racial segregation in America. I must warn you, this book is not exactly what I would call a happy book. If you ask me to describe it in one word, I would say: intense. I didn’t mind at all though; that quality favoured the melancholic part of me. I also wouldn’t describe Homegoing as an easy read, but it’s highly gripping and thought-provoking. It is clear thorough research went into writing it. It is a story filled with love, immense hate (I would say this is one of the main basis of the story—one woman’s hatred for her step-daughter and the decisions she took to attempt to alter the child’s fate), lust, betrayal, pain, sadness.
Homegoing is such a beautiful story. There were times I wanted to put the book down so I wouldn’t finish it too quickly; yet, I didn’t want to because I was also extremely keen to know what happened next. I know this is Gyasi’s debut novel, but is it too premature of me to say I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with her style of writing? She is such an intelligent writer and has gained a huge fan in me. I felt the book. I felt the pains, hopes and fears of the characters. There were parts of the novel, either a quote by a character or the writer’s narrative, that I can only describe as deep. It is powerful storytelling and few books have left me feeling this way.
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.
– Yaa Gyasi (Homegoing)
I want to say though, at a point, it seemed there was an overload of information and an over-saturation of characters. It was a challenge to keep up. Unfortunately, this almost took away from the work as it became a chore trying to recall events and the exact characters tied to said occurrences. I discovered, eventually, there was a purpose to everything she included in the story. I love how the beginning of the story was linked to its end and how everything came together beautifully.
I can actually imagine the book being made into a movie. With excellent scriptwriting, directing and production, it would make an excellent film. It made me want to visit Ghana again, the Cape Coast castle in particular. I became hungry to learn about the history of Ghana, and this inadvertently pushed me to begin to learn more about the history of Nigeria. Can’t be having anyone accuse me of being unpatriotic!
OK. I think I’ve gushed enough about this book. I’m not sure how much justice I have done to trying to recommend it to you. Yes, interest is subjective, but I’m sure if you are a bibliophile, and even if you’re not, you’d love this book. I cannot recommend Homegoing enough. So, if you’re yet to read it, please don’t wait one more minute to get your hands on it. Grab your copy nowwwwww!!!
*if you’re Nigerian I’m sure you can picture exactly how I said that last sentence*