Historical Fiction

Book Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

One-sentence summary:

We follow Effie and Esi, half-sisters separated at birth, and their lineage through their respective lives as husbands, wives, slaves, laborers, tribal leaders, struggling parents, addicts, professors, and students.


Homegoing is heartbreaking. Life isn’t great for Esi or Effia. Beaten, raped, and treated like property, they spend their lives victim to the whims of others.

And so do many of the generations that come after them.

We get stories from each generation of Effia and Esi’s children throughout Homegoing. Obvious spoiler alert: most of them are sad.

The irony is the title. Many of these people are taken away from their homes. And the homes they do know are often far less than ideal (& that’s a huge understatement)

Slavery, for example, is horrible as a concept. But it’s downright heartbreaking when you see the reality of it through Ness’s experiences. Nothing that should be hers is actually hers; not even her child, not even her own body.

The saddest story for me is

Actually, it goes further than that.

I want to reach in, rearrange the words, and create happy endings for all the characters. Unfortunately, I can’t rewrite history. Even though the characters are fictional, the settings and circumstances are regrettably real.

Homegoing is one of those books everyone should read. Not only because of its important look at disenfranchised people in history, but also because it’s just damn good.