(feature image by Andrew Wyeth)
to be human means what? not
the body shell until
we are touched by another’s hand someone we love electric shocks of recognition pulse through skin reaching energy within us deep
penetrating creating what it means
to be a human being
every moment a prayer even if you don’t believe still
earnest asking of one more touch
—-a near death experience
I joined Muse Monthly because of the promise of a page-turning read and a good cup of tea–they have yet to disappoint. July’s box contained a copy of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, born in Ghana, raised in Alabama, graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. This was the book I had been waiting for all summer. Before my tea had steeped I was in deep. A novel whose narrative clings so tightly you don’t want to breathe for fear of letting go. Well developed characters who occupy your brain long after you placed your bookmark. Below are my four reasons you really ought to read this book.
- You will learn something about history. Forget what you think you know. This is a different perspective, grown out of the stories of Effie and Esi, two half sisters born into different villages. Fated journeys without choice have set the wheels in motion for generations to come: one woman becomes a slave and is sent to America, the other woman marries an English slave trader and remains in Africa.
- This is a story of hope. Each generation faces, head-on, the past and the present as they collide into their current circumstance. Along with the evils of slavery and racism shaping the lives and histories of these characters, goodness and love are in the world, too. As Ta-Nehisi Coates said, “I think I need to read a book like this to remember what is possible.”
- Homegoing will make for a good book group discussion. The issues at the core of the novel most of us aren’t comfortable talking about–slavery, racism, freedom, sin–but need to be discussed. You will also find individual struggles, meaning of family, love, tenacity, fear, and survival. When I finished the novel I couldn’t wait to discuss this with someone else.
- Homegoing is exceptional story-telling. Good stories are why we come to fiction. We want to be transported away from our own lives to temporarily live someone else’s, even if the story is uncomfortable or foreign to our experiences. You will cancel plans, be happy the train is running late, forget the wait in the doctor’s office– you will loose yourself in this story.
I welcome your thoughts on Homegoing. Please share them in the comments section here.