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     by Gyasi, Yaa


Following the descendants of fictional half-sisters born in 18th century Ghana, this examination of two family lines from generation to generation is a moving portrait of African history. Effia and Esi were born into different tribes in Ghana. One woman is stolen and forced into slavery, while the other is married away to a white British official who benefits from selling slaves to America. Chapters devoted to their descendants give a brief glimpse at what life might have been like for them during particular time periods. The horribly inhumane treatment of slavery and the sacrifices people made to escape are revealed as well as the shame of those in Ghana due to their part in the slave trade. Descendants travel from the Alabama coal mines to the streets of Jazz Age Harlem to the California coast. At each chapter in the journey, readers are drawn further into the fate of these two interlinked families. 

This debut novel presents a powerful and sweeping story of slavery’s effects. The author’s unique presentation, following family members through several generations, still gives unspeakable depth to each character. Readers will come away with an increased awareness of the history of Ghana’s people and their journey to equality. Homegoing was the winner of the 2017 PEN/Hemingway Award.

Reviewed by cs, 09/17. Other reviews by cs.