“We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So, when you study history, you must always ask yourself, whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story, too. From there, you begin to get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.”
In history class, I’m used to hearing about the white man’s history: colonialism, how Canada was founded, how Serbia messed and caused world war 2 etc. I set out to find out more about other countries and what led them to be how they are today. After reading about the Biafran War (There Was A Country: A Personal History Of Biafra by Chinua Achebe), which was an important event in Nigeria’s history, I’ve been curious about what makes a country, a country. What events can change the future of the people? That is why I picked up this novel, and boy was I in for a major history lesson.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi explores the struggles people of color had to face through seven generations of two unknowingly related families. We start with sisters Esi and Effia, joined by the same mother but divided by a raging fire. They continue on their lives , one staying behind which leads us to see events that affected Ghana, the other becomes a slave and we see the development of America’s path towards equality.
Choice of narration
This story is told in multiple perspectives, which can be very difficult to follow sometimes. However, the author made great choices on who should tell what story, so the reader can get a bigger picture on the event happening in that specific time period. For example, the book began with young Effia, written with an innocent voice and the curious souls children are famous for. It was an excellent option considering her curiosity matched the reader’s: they are introduced to a new environment and seek answers so they understand what is happening.
A True Storyteller
One of the qualities I also love about this novel is the author’s unfiltered writing. She eloquently describes the everything, even the parts most authors would shy away from mentioning. How did the slaves feel as the master beat them? You’ll feel their pain as if it were your own. Why won’t a man have her kids? Gyasi will unflinchingly explain that his penis goes limp for the woman he does not want. The author’s writing assures everyone gets the real story and absolutely nothing stays hidden in the shadows.
Out of the 14 perspectives throughout the novel, I’d say my absolute favorite was Marjorie as a result of her having to endure being called white just because of her actions. Though, I would liked it if she could’ve stood up for herself more, she’s still a fav.
“Now, keeping her head down and fighting back tears as Tisha and her friends called her ‘white girl’, Marjorie was made aware yet again, that here ‘white’ could be the way a person talked; ‘black’, the music a person listened to.”
I could relate to her on another level. Multiple times people have told me I talk like a white person, because my vocabulary does not consist of mostly slang words, I don’t listen to hard rap about how the rapper likes this shawty and I’m not a crazy loud Nigerian girl. Just because certain people don’t act or do the same as others of the same race, doesn’t mean they’re another. Stereotypes can be annoying.
Verdict: Worthy Read
All in all, I give Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi a 4 out 5 stars rating. Though the multiple perspective could get confusing and some parts were too realistic for my liking, I believe everyone should read this book. The world needs to educate themselves on what happened in the past so we don’t make the same stupid mistakes again. We can all learn a thing or two.
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