Like water on a hot day, this book invigorates, satisfies and refreshes. It is a story of slavery, two sisters separated by the cruelty of men — white and black — and how their descendants navigate their way back to one another, one lifetime after another.
My friend Sandra recommended this book to me after a conversation about Ava DuVernay's 13th; a documentary featured on Netflix about the mass incarceration of African Americans, and the new Jim Crow.
Home Going is beautifully written and well researched. It's not just your regular intergenerational slavery tale; it's more. Set in Ghana and southern and northern states in the US, Yaa does an amazing of job of weaving storytelling with folklore and history, in a magnetic style sure to keep your eyes glued to the book, or at least coming back.
My goodness, the nuances are accurate even across contexts. It is a story of two sisters, one sold to slavery and the other not, the pressures of their contexts, and how their lineage evolves across generations to finding out who they are, and eventually finding one another.
The characters are so well developed, and plots so intertwined, you almost want to read their detailed stories as separate books. Admittedly, I had to stop several times in the book to trace which person I was reading about in relation to the original sisters.
The book is one that clearly articulates the complexity and simplicity of the ills of slavery, the eventual erosion of identity, and how that stunts the development of a people. It shows the many faces of Jim Crow, from slavery, prison labour, and segregation, to drugs, mass incarceration, and violence towards black people.
It breaks down the fabric of Black Americans from as early as the family unit evolving through 300 hundred years on both sides of the coin.
It artistically highlights with stories the struggle with identity and the numerous paths to finding oneself as an African American, while being influenced by institutionalized mines that pave the way, powered by laws, driving both outright and systemic racism.
This book is sad, yet enthralling and refreshing.
Yaa Gyasi created a masterpiece with this novel, and I would read it over and over again.
I rate it a 4.5 star.