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11.18.2016

Book Report - Homegoing

I kept seeing Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi popping up all over as one of the best books of 2016, so I was intrigued and wanted to see if it was worth all the hype.
In eighteenth-century Ghana, two half-sisters lead incredibly different life paths - one sold into slavery, the other married off to a British slave-trader. Following each sister's descendents from generation to generation across hundreds of years, Homegoing delves into the cruelty of slavery and its everlasting effect on a family.   

Homegoing was a very serious book, and it was seriously good too. It's a heavy subject matter, but I found it extremely interesting and compelling throughout. The author uses an unique writing style whereby each chapter is another generation's story (i.e. each chapter is about the child of the person of the previous child). It's this technique that allows the story to span hundreds of years in only three hundred(ish) pages. The stories are good too. Which brings me to my only complaint about the novel...I wanted more! The author was able to create such compelling characters and arcs for each character in such a brief amount of time, that I was often sad when their story would end at the conclusion of the chapter. Sometimes they would pop-up again in their child's story, but many times their one chapter was literally...all she wrote. 

The novel also offers up an interesting perspective on slavery. It takes place in Ghana, and one story follows the tribes there that actually warred with and kidnapped members of other tribes to sell to the slave traders. It was almost a way for them to save themselves, and I wasn't aware that that ever even happened. The story of the side of the family sold into slavery followed the history of slavery I was more familiar with - the slave boats, plantation life, and their journey to freedom, but not necessarily equality. The novel reminds us that slavery is not just something that happened in the history books and is over and done with now. It's effects have stayed with these families through generations, and it's something the African American community still carries with them to this day. In these uncertain times, it's important to remember the atrocities committed against them (and others) in this country and continue the fight for true freedom and equality for all.

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