Genre: Historical Fiction/Family Saga
Two sisters Effia and Esia are born in two different villages and two different tribes in Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman who is the current Governor at the Cape Coast Castle where stolen Africans are held captive before they are forced to board a slave ship to America. Esia is one of the prisoners who was taken from her village and held captive at the Cape Coast Castle before being sold into slavery in America. In the subsequent chapters this book follows the descendants of both Effia and Esia as they are born into a world during and after slavery on separate continents.
I have owned this book for a couple of years now and have always said I would read it eventually, well Im glad eventually finally came because this book was absolutely amazing. This book pulled me in from the very first page, I was so captivated I couldn’t put it down. What I loved about this book is how it followed the descendants of these two sisters impacted by slavery in two different ways, one being forced into slavery whose descendants went through being born into slavery, being “freed” from slavery, segregation, the Harlem Renaissance, and a desire to know about their African roots. While the other sisters descendants lived with the stigma of being a child of a colonizer, profited from the slave trade, lived through colonization, fought for their “independence”, and being an immigrant in America. The alternating chapters of each sisters defendants made me feel like these events were happening at the same time on different continents. I loved how raw the story was. I don’t think Yaa Gyasi held anything back.
This was my first time reading a book with Africa as a setting and I loved it. I loved reading about the Ghanian culture and history. I will be honest I knew nothing of Ghana’s history and the extent of Ghanians involvement in the slave trade. Reading this sent me straight to google to learn more. This was also the first time I considered the impact slavery had on West Africans. As an African American woman I felt and could relate to some of the descendants of Esia but Effia descendants made me think about the impact slavery and colonization had on those who remained in Africa.
Yaa Gyasi weaved through these chapters so effortlessly. There were so many characters that I thought I would get confused but I never did. With each descendent there was always a link back to their ancestor, something that always reminded you they were from Esia lineage or Effia lineage (aside from the obvious difference in locations and events). Some chapters even left me in shock but Yaa Gyasi always answered the lingering question from their parents chapter which is one of the reasons this book was so hard to put down.
Yaa Gyasi made me feel like I could have been reading about my own ancestors. This book was amazing from the rich Ghanian culture, to the historical facts, and the African and African American experience through seven generations touching several historical eras. This book became my favorite book before I was even halfway done reading it. I highly recommend everyone read this book you will not be disappointed.