This review originally appeared on WorldOfJoel.com
For the first time in 2017, I'm incredibly conflicted about a book I read. Homegoing, the debut novel from Yaa Gyasi is far and away the most well-written novel I've read so far this year. The way in which she so eloquently weaves the narrative with the setting was often breathtaking. And yet, for the majority of Homegoing, I found myself drifting along without a real sense of direction or purpose.
That may have been the point. Homegoing is a novel that spans many generations where you weave in and out of stories as quickly as they come. You start with a story of two half-sisters who go on two incredibly different paths and follow their families lineage throughout the generations. One family which stays in Ghana and the other through the slave trade in the United States. It's a brilliant narrative device to ground you in each of these stories as the years and the characters change.
What I struggled with though is that some stories and narratives captivated me, while others didn't. I often struggled to remember the names, places, and significance of certain traits or characteristics that I'm sure on a second reading would pop out as amazing tidbits. And unlike most of the novels I read, I do think to listen to the audiobook version of Homegoing did a disservice to keeping up with the intricacies of the names and families.
There were some moments in Homegoing that left me floored, while the majority of it didn't resonate with me. I sort of wish that we had fewer characters and maybe fast forwarded through the years and saw two or three generations of characters rather than the crazy back and forth that the story had. And yet even though I didn't fall in love with Homegoing, the writing was so brilliant that I'm still excited to read whatever Yaa Gyasi writes next.
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