“We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So, when you study history, you must always ask yourself, whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth. Once you have figures that out, you must find that story, too. From there, you begin to get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.”
Homegoing opens in the eighteenth century with the story of Effia, followed by the story of Esi. Effia and Esi are half-sisters born to the same mother but in different tribes in Ghana. Effia is married off to an English Slave Trader and Esi is sold into slavery. The whole book is divided into short stories of Effia and Esi’s bloodline though time, going to and fro from Effia and Esi’s descendents for six generations and 300 years. Each chapter has a different point of view, telling the story of a new character. Each generation/character’s story is so beautifully written that I kept wanting to read more about the character and his/her struggle. You are uprooted from each story and put into another, though the transition is smooth (not really), but then each character is so intriguing that it took me a couple of moments to process the whole thing before diving into another story. The struggles of these characters, the kind of abuse and brutality they had to endure, is heartbreaking, especially when you know that it isn’t far from the reality. I had such a hard time finishing this book, not because I dint like it, but because I kept feeling so much for each character, like he/she were my own child and I wanted to protect and love him/her and tell them everything will be fine in the end (which would be a lie). It was crazy. I wish this book dint have an end. Reading this book was the best part of my day, it doesn’t make you feel fuzzy and wonderful about the world. It is filled with death, horror and violence and can get extremely brutal. African history, slave trade, life in America, conditions of slaves in the new world, insidious forms of racism and violence, the injustice in the name of law. It is not an easy read emotionally. Knowing that we live in a better world now makes me so happy. Knowing that we have a voice out there telling significant stories with such grace, a voice that had once been suppressed, going us a clearer, yet simply imperfect, picture of the past.