Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi – Review

I started in March finished it in, June. I just wanted to come and share my thoughts about it.

The transcendent kingdom is a story about a lot of things. It’s about the balance of science, religion, substance abuse and addiction, mental health mental wellness, and it’s a story about all of those things in the juxtaposition of African culture and adapting to American culture. There are sprinkles of social commentary in here, and there are bits of racism. This book covers a lot of ground. But, it also manages to stay very still, which I’ll talk about in just a bit.

Our main character within this book her name is gifty. She is a Ph.D. candidate who is studying addiction in mice. We learn about her life, how it inspires her studies, and who she decides to become an adult.

We also learn about gifty’s family. Her family is from Ghana. Her mom, her father, and her brother are Ghanaian, and they eventually all moved to the united states and tried and established a livelihood there. Her family is just really hit with several things. We learned about how each family member decides to cope with the stressors of being in a new place, trying to do your best for yourself. Your family and your children are trying to impress your family members or your father. The many struggles that can come to a family of immigrants in life, particularly in America, are the many struggles that can come to a family of immigrants. Then we learn about each family member, coping strategies, and how religion plays into that.

I bring that up again because religion is a critical focal point within this book, so I’m just putting that out there for the folks planning on reading it. We have a young woman in prayer on the front.

I will say that the writing, although it’s excellent within this book, it is very different. Then what you may have experienced, in homegoing. There’s lots of introspection here, a lot of journal-like writing here, a lot of thought processing, internal dialogue within this book. The writing style will be pretty different from what you’re used to from homegoing, which I think is a way for flexing her. Her writing skills have shown that she can create something entirely different from what we all are used to; things that I did appreciate about this book appreciate the honesty. Some of the questions that our main character asks herself are several questions that are those same questions that I’ve even asked myself being someone who was a child? Who was reared in a church? Who was raised in a church? If you have that same type of background, you may see some parallels within this story.

I appreciated the authenticity of the different relationships within this family. We see favoritism, and we see enabling. We know a lot of other things. Although you know this doesn’t represent every immigrant family, I think it was a great representation of this immigrant family and who they were supposed to be.

I didn’t like as much about this story: we invested a tremendous amount of time in one of the family characters within this book, and once we closed this book, I feel like the investment in the closure was so short. It felt like whiplash.

Again what I appreciated most about this book was its honesty its authenticity. But, I think what you may enjoy about the transcendent kingdom is that it’s from a new direction. If you’re looking for something that was quite like, homegoing, you’re not going to get that. But, you will get something that’s quite different, that I think you still will be able to appreciate.

I ended up giving the transcendent kingdom a 4 out of 5 stars. And I hope you take some time and read it.


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