Sunday, February 28, 2021

Review: Transcendent Kingdom

Transcendent Kingdom Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Transcendent Kingdom Yaa Gyasi’s second novel we meet a Ghanaian family living in Alabama. The story is told from Gifty’s perspective, she takes us into the world of her immigrant family and shows us how they moved from being together to things falling apart. Gifty’s parents met in Ghana, her mother decided America would be a great place to raise a family. She works hard and sends for the father who Gifty refers to as Chin Chin man. The father comes to Alabama but does not climatize as the rest of the family, for him, America is not all that it is cracked up to be. He tells his family he will be visiting Ghana but never returns.

Gifty’s brother Nana is a star athlete who bring victory upon victory to his home team. He performs so well he starts getting calls from major universities to play for them. Nana’s life is on track for greatness, until one day after an injury he is placed on bedrest and told to take OxyContin which he gets addicted to. Gifty and her mother tries everything in their power to help Nana recover from this addiction, he goes to a treatment camp, they pray for him, nothing works. A police man visits to let the family know Nana overdosed.

With the Chin Chin man in Ghana, Nana dead, Gifty and her mother is now a family of two, but with the mother barely present. She goes through significant bouts of depression, Gifty is left to raise herself. She manages to submerge herself in the sciences and ends up being a candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine. Gifty intends to study reward seeking behaviour as a way to understand what happened to her bother and is currently happening to her mother.

A major theme in this book is faith and religion and I think it was theme that was executed with excellency. I felt the book does a great job of showing us realistic way people’s faith gets tested and why some turn away from God.  The mother-daughter theme was beautifully portrayed in such layered and nuanced way. At times my heart broke for Gifty and how her mother handled the death of her son, and the suffering of her daughter.

An excellent read and looking forward to more from this author.

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