Yaa Gyasi's debut novel, Homegoing, deserves all the hype it has been getting. It tells the tale of two sisters, born to different men and with vastly different lives. Gyasi provides her readers with a family tree at the start of the novel; little did I know that after I quickly flipped past that to begin reading, each generation on the family tree would get its own portrait. That I would constantly be referring back to the family tree as I read. The half-sisters, Effia Otcher and Esi Asare, do not know of each other's existence. They are born into different villages in Ghana in the 1700s; Effia is married off to a British man and lives in the Cape Coast Castle, Esi is sold into slavery and imprisoned in the dungeons below the Castle, sent to the American South. Each chapter in Gyasi's novel is alternates descendants of Effia's or Esi's, going through six generations. Effia's line stays in the Gold Coast, and you follow them through warfare, slave trade, and colonization. Esi's line takes you through American slavery, sharecropping and American prisons. Each chapter (each character) could undeniably stand on its own, and I found myself wanting more out of each story, and the power of short stories is that they build entire worlds in such a short amount of time. But it wasn't a short story collection, it was a coherent narrative. I read a review that critiqued Gyasi for making each generation have *everything* happen to them in that historical period, and I sort of agree that each person didn’t have to encompass every experience in that generation. But I also think it was powerful this way, and the scope and depth of the novel was so impressive. She writes how complicit different tribes were in the slave trade; as Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, "Gyasi is deeply concerned with the sin of selling humans on Africans, not Europeans. But she does not scold. She does not excuse. And she does not romanticize." And the way in which she chooses to end her stories are simply marvelous (so, I won't spoil, but encourage you to read for yourself). I'll leave you with a quote, an Akan proverb that Gyasi has chosen to start her stories with as the epigraph: "the family is like the forest: if you are outside it is dense; if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position." Rating:★★★★★

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