Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Or…how I devoured 200 pages of a book in a day so that I could gush about it at book club the next day.


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Published: June 7th, 2016
Publisher: Knopf
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781101947135
Source: Owned
Challenges: Read My Own Damn Books, Read The Books You Buy


This could be a book you just won’t be able to put down. This could also be a book filled with so many triggers for you that you’re going to need to take your time with it. This book is goddamn beautiful is what it is.

The book follows the families of two half-sisters, Esi and Effia, born in two different villages in Ghana in the eighteenth century. Effia is married to a British dude as part of negotiations between the white people and the African villages(hello, colonization) and Esi is captured and held prisoner in the dungeons of the very same castle, and is shipped off to America to be sold as a slave (hello, more colonization). 

In the eloquent words of Roxane Gay: “Seriously, white men are the devil.

Each chapter focuses on a member of each of the two family trees, in chronological order, across generations, with each story set in very specific moments in the history of African and African-American people. Wars in Ghana, slavery, colonization, coal mines in the South, more slavery, the Great Migration, Civil rights movements, etc.

Gyasi takes no prisoners. Her writing and her research are both, so impressive. Just the evolving nature of slavery and the treatment of women over time, evoked so many feelings for me. It was raw, and sucker-punching. I also really enjoyed the structure of the book, because I will devour a story juxtaposed in actual historical moments any day. Smack dab in the middle of my wheelhouse. Her depictions of each of the characters, especially the resilient women who will do what they need to do to survive, are just so powerful. Fuck, women never get enough credit. As for how the book ends, based on the description, it wasn’t surprising for me at all, and it didn’t affect my experience of the book, so I definitely didn’t knock it down for that. I think I would’ve been a little disappointed if it hadn’t ended that way. 

This might not be an easy book to read. As a non-black WOC, my experience reading this is most certainly not going to be the same as a Black WOC. My friend D, who is also currently reading the book, is definitely processing it slowly and differently. If you must read a multi-generational family saga, this should be the one. Beautiful, sad, and superbly crafted, I couldn’t recommend it enough. 



Author: Janani @ The Shrinkette

Speed reading aficionado. Unapologetic book pusher. Point me to the nearest bookshelf. My blog is dedicated exclusively to supporting and promoting marginalized voices. Pronouns: They/them

16 thoughts on “Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi”

  1. What a great review – I feel like you captured so many of my thoughts and reactions in relation to Homegoing perfectly! It is certainly a book of many possibilities, one that could be consumed in two days flat (like I did!) or one that requires time, care, and consideration because of all it contains (which is probably how I will read it next time around). I also felt a little underwhelmed with the ending but also like it was inevitable and as though the ending had little to no bearing on my opinion of the book at large. I guess I didn’t really read it to see how it would end, but rather, for how fascinating the story was as I made my way through. I certainly didn’t want it to end, given how much I was enjoying it! Just discovered your blogs and I’m looking forward to reading more of your reviews and being a new follower!


  2. Such a wonderful and passionate review, Janani. I bought this book last week but kept working through my back-log – NO MORE!!! This is now at the top of the queue. I think for me reading this is going to be a slow digestive process, it sounds like I have everything to learn. Which is always a very very good quality I love in a book 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ok I stopped reading after your first paragraph because I really just want to get into this book without knowing much about it (and without having too high expectations!). Because I am, like Jenny, a bit worried that it won’t live up to all the gushing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gaaaaah, I have read so many glowing rave reviews of this book that I’m now afraid Homegoing can’t possibly live up to my expectations for it. It sounds SO GOOD, yet my library hold on it still will not come in for at least another week. What if I don’t like it because y’all liked it so much? WHAT IF THAT HAPPENS JANANI?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. IT WILL BE OKAY JENNY because you’ll text me all your feelings and then write a review that will blow my world and make it impossible for me to feel anything but love for you.


  5. Love your review. And now I must buy this book. Seriously, I’ve seen this book all over the book blogs and I wanted to read it. But your review is sending me out to buy it this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person


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