Book Club Kit - 2016 | Book club edition
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Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasis extraordinary novel illuminates slaverys troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayedand shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
Edition: Book club edition
ISBN: 9781101971062
Branch Call Number: F GYASI-Y
Characteristics: 15 books (305 pages : genealogical table ; 25 cm) + 1 binder, in bin (27 x 42 x 28 cm.)


From Library Staff

Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonial, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising half-caste children who will be sent... Read More »

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Jul 28, 2019

Firstly, it's well-nigh unbelievable that this powerful and beautifully written story is a debut. Gyasi gives us a rich and emotional famiy saga that spans 300 years, 7 generations, and 2 continents. Effia and Esi, two half-sisters unaware of each other's existence, are separated in mid-18th century Ghana - Effia remains in her homeland and Esi is abducted by the British and sold into slavery. The book alternates chapters/stories between Effia's descendants in Ghana and Esi's in the U.S. Gyasi is an evocative writer and I could feel/see/smell/hear the scenes and settings she described. The earlier stories were especially strong; I felt that some of the later, shorter ones became more like vignettes and didn't have the deep characterizations and emotion of what came before. But this a quiibble. I highly recommend this wonderful book and am eager to see what Gyasi does next.

Jul 19, 2019

Read ✔️

Jun 17, 2019

I am currently reading this beautiful, heartbreaking book. I already know it is five stars ⭐️ but I will add a new comment when completed. Highly recommended. ❤️ 😭

I just finished this book. It is informative and sweeping. Full of heart, great characterizations, and great sadness. The last few chapters were less powerful and felt tacked on yet it had a fitting ending. I would suggest this book to everyone.

Jun 15, 2019

A very ambitious project for Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel and a worthwhile read. Focusing on two lineages of the same family throughout two and a half centuries, Gyasi alternates chapters to follow the descendants who stayed in Ghana, and those who descended from a kidnap victim sold into American slavery. We witness the abusive horrors that were rampant in the American South, and we see the wars, famine and poverty that challenged those in Ghana. But a satisfying conclusion that comes full circle.

Mar 24, 2019

Recommended by Pat and read by my book club early on

Feb 05, 2019

Not finished yet, but I don't recommend the audiobook, keeping EFF-y and ESS-y straight is tough. And it is read so slow! How does it take 12 hours to read a 300 page book? I've already got it going at 1.5 speed and it's taking forever but there is so much information going on.

Jan 22, 2019

The author is new, judging from details included in the Acknowledgements, and so I consider this work a notable and promising effort. While the book cover suggests an African theme, the story is both African and African American. It traces a set of related individuals over several generations, from before the rise of the slave trade in western Africa to Jim Crow America. Given the trans-generational framework, the reader is challenged to remember the characters from the previous periods; I had a difficult time making the connections. I did find the American scenarios most compelling and best fleshed out. I consider the effort praiseworthy although I caution the reader about fellow-author testimonies as I find them misleading at times, and this is one of them.

Dec 11, 2018

This is a beautifully written book. Yaa Gyasi is an amazing storyteller and I can't wait to discuss this with my bookgroup.

Oct 16, 2018

An easy read to learn about history, plain, poetic, predictable.

Genealogy_Lynn Aug 23, 2018

The chapters in this novel are linked stories following two half-sisters' descendants. Everyone’s lives are touched in some way by the slave trade. The family tree at the front of the book helps to keep the descendants and people clear in one’s mind. It’s a complicated book which deals with a serious subject. I will remember some of the events in this book for a long time to come.

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Dec 27, 2018

You can learn anything when you have to learn it. You could learn to fly if it meant you would live another day.

Oct 06, 2017

You are not your mother’s first daughter. There was one before you. And in my village we have a saying about separated sisters. They are like a woman and her reflection, doomed to stay on opposite sides of the pond.

Jan 10, 2017

“History is Storytelling… This is the problem of history. We cannot know that which we were not there to see and hear and experience for ourselves. We must rely upon the words of others. Those who were there in the olden days, they told stories to the children so that the children would know, so that the children could tell stories to their children. And so on, and so on. But now we come upon the problem of conflicting stories… Whose story do we believe? We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must always ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there, you begin to get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.” - pages 225 & 226

Jan 10, 2017

"Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves." - page 38

Jun 02, 2016

"'Shorter hours, better ventilation, those are things that you should be fighting for.'
'More money’s what we should be fighting for.'
'Money’s nice, don’t get me wrong. But mining can be a whole lot safer than what it is. Lives are worth fighting for too.'"

"'When a white man ever listened to a black man?'"


Add a Summary
Oct 06, 2017

Effia and Esi are half-sisters who have never met. First divided by their mother’s secrets, they will soon be divided by an ocean when Esi is sold into slavery and shipped across the Atlantic. Effia remains in Ghana, sold in marriage by her step-mother to the British governor of the Cape Coast Castle, where slaves are held in cramped dungeons before being loaded onto ships bound for America. In present day America, Marjorie wrestles with her identity as a Ghanaian immigrant to the United States, while Marcus struggles to complete his PhD knowing that many young black men of his generation are dead or in jail, and that only chance has kept him from the same fate. In a sweeping family saga, Yaa Gyasi follows the sisters’ bloodlines over hundreds of years, one child from each generation, tracing the impact of colonialism and slavery across the centuries, between Ghana and America.


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