Homegoing author Yaa Gyasi, does a remarkable job exhibiting how we can inherit scars, and how emotional scars passed down through generations can be equally as impactful as physical scars. In this rich, well written debut novel, 250 years of history are told through Gyasi’s compassionate storytelling beginning in 1700s Ghana when one sister left her village to marry an Englishman and live in a castle while the other sister was a slave in that castle’s basement. Each of the book’s chapters are about a different descendant and how their life was shaped by the lives of their predecesssors. She covers 7 generations in Ghana and America as they experience the slave trade, British colonization, racism and culture changes.
The powerful perspective of Willie, a black mother, as she scolds her adult son, Sonny, for being a drug addict is evident here:
“White men get a choice. They get to choose they job, choose they house. They get to make black babies, then disappear into thin air, like they wasn’t never there to begin with, like these black women they slept with or raped done laid on top of themselves and got pregnant. White men get to choose for black men too. Used to sell ‘em; now they just send ‘em to prison like they did my daddy, so that they can’t be with they kids. ……You keep doin’ what you doin’ and the white man don’t got to do it no more. He ain’t got to sell you or put you in a coal mine to own you. He’ll own you just as is, and he’ll say you the one who didi it. He’ll say it’s your fault.”
Following this family through time, like studying the history of those who came before us, can provide some insight into current time race relations. This epic family saga is well worth reading.
According to the WSJ, this outstanding debut novel sold for over $1,000,000 before it was even published. The author started writing it her sophomore year at Stanford. She visited Ghana for a summer when she was 20 and the book was published when she was 26.