Monday, October 12, 2020

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pages: 264 pages
Published: September 2020

I have had a difficult time pulling together a review for Yaa Gyasi’s sophomore novel, Transcendent Kingdom I absolutely loved Homegoing. I read it twice, which is something I rarely do. (There are simply too many books to read.) Gyasi is a talented writer, a gifted storyteller. However, despite warnings by the publisher, critics and the author herself, I wanted Transcendent Kingdom to be like Homegoing. It was not. The story was told in a stream of consciousness format from Gifty, the main character’s viewpoint of she and her mom healing from a husband and father who deserted them and a son and brother who died of an opioid addiction. As a result of these traumatic events, Gifty has dedicated her education to studying addiction and trying to find a cure to help people overcome it. This is where we find her in the opening of the book - in the midst of her PhD research on the subject. In addition to healing from the loss of her brother, Gifty is also trying to come to terms with her father’s return to Ghana from the United States many years earlier. And she is trying to reconcile her dedication to science while being the daughter of a devout Christian mother.

Even though the page count is a little over 250, the book had so many layers. I found it to be very complex and reflective but also very sad. The book does have some elements of hope but overall it basically focuses on the psychological struggle of a young woman attempting to synthesize the very heavy life experiences she’s faced. 

Recommendation: This is not a book that ties up neatly in the end. It’s one that you have to consider the journey more so than focusing on the ending. While I loved Homegoing much more, Transcendent Kingdom is good in its own right. It is different, but the writing is solid and I would recommend picking it up when you’re in the mood for an in-depth read. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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