Book Review: Homegoing
"There should be no room in your life for regret. If in the moment of doing you felt clarity, you felt certainty, then why feel regret later?"
Where do I get started with sharing how impactful this book was? As a bookworm, I mostly read as a form of escapism and most times, crime thrillers/rom-coms are my go-to for this. I came across this book on a Goodreads list of books that had won a literary prize. As I had already been thinking about being more intentional about reading books by African authors, I paused when I saw the name Yea Gyasi and decided to purchase the book on Amazon. Thanks to Prime, I was able to start reading it the very next day and read it every free moment I had. I went so far as to take the train to London that weekend rather than drive as that gave me 4 more hours to read the book as opposed to sitting in traffic. Side note, I need to do that more often!
The book starts off as emotionally as it ends, with the story of Effia the Beauty, growing up in an Asante village in Ghana. As a Ghanaian myself, reading the book made me so homesick, I longed to be able to walk through the forests and paths described in this book and longed to be in Ghana. This book moves very swiftly through the lives of Effia and Esi (daughters of Maame who never met each other) and their respective families/generations. Usually focusing on the most "story-worthy" character, we get to follow the lineage of these two sisters, torn apart by very real events, and the experience of living through slavery both in Ghana and in America. Absolutely gut-wrenching at times, there is often very little difference between the experiences of these characters who lived decades ago and our own experiences today. This book is a very stark reminder that when it comes to the history of slavery and racism, we are still very much living in the effects of what happened to our ancestors.
Although presented as a fictional novel, the experiences felt anything but, rather communicating the reality of people who lived in a different time through some horrific circumstances. I'm not sure how those experiences could be described as fictional. The characters for sure are fictional but I couldn't shake the realness of the experiences those fictional characters went through. I even wondered about my own lineage, wondering about how families must have been torn apart for so long, maybe never to find their way back to each other. Homegoing gave the readers the ending we deserved. The two characters coming together at the very end, completely unaware of their beginnings and the woman it all started with was hauntingly beautiful.
I would highly recommend anyone wishing to read more books by African authors to read this book and enjoy the journey through the Asanteland of Ghana. Leave a comment below if you do read it and let me know what you think!