Homegoing is a family history, a generational story spanning seven generations of two half sisters, each unknown to the other. Reading more like a collection of short stories than a novel, we see Maame’s family spread across Ghana and the United States. We read about the effects that slavery and segregation have on everybody involved. We read about the drive for independence and freedom. It is at times hearbreaking, joyful, hopeful, disparaging, unsatisfying, and soul-filling.
This book took me on a journey. Not just in the way that it spanned time and distance, but the way it took me through the human condition. I don’t have a problem with books told from multiple perspectives in general – I just acknowledge that it is very hard to do well. Each different perspective must be unique, telling the reader something new. Yaa Gyasi did an excellent job. Even now, fourteen perspectives later, each character stands out in my memory – each of their struggles touched my heart.
If you’re looking for a story to alleviate your white guilt, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a story to confirm your belief that racism and all of the problems that come along with it ended when slavery was abolished, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a fluffy, feel-good story, this isn’t it. This book was hard to read. This book was challenging on many levels. This book was filled with unpleasant anecdotes. This book was filled with things that disgusted me to my core. And that’s why it was so important for me to read.
Homegoing is an incredibly important book, and it has come at a time when it is crucial for artists to be creating important work, and for us to be interacting with that work. If I was teaching a first year (or any year) university English course, you can bet that Homegoing would be one of the first books on the syllabus. Get your hands on Homegoing.