My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This author has an amazing ability to tell a long story in a short paragraph. Each story was unique and insightful, while each character had their own personality and nuances. Everything came together in a sweeping tale of the history of a family… of a people.
One of the reasons I love Historical Fiction is because I always feel like I’ve been educated, as well as entertained by the story… who said fiction wasn’t real knowledge!? In this case, I learned a lot about the history of Ghana and the origin of the slave trade. Even though the tale focuses more on the personal experience of each character at the time, it was still a heart wrenching look into how people were treated over the years and provided a lot of reality based facts.
The story follows the two branches of a family tree, starting with half sisters Effia (the beauty who married an English officer and stayed in Ghana) and Esi (captured as a slave and shipped to America). The narrative flows beautifully through the respective era’s, following the slave movement in America as well as the rise and fall of power in Ghana, which is a completely new subject to me and something I would love to read more about.
I think there are a lot of underlying messages and ideas within this story, but I don’t necessarily want to go too deep into that. Suffice it to say that in my opinion the biggest message I took from this book is how important history is, and how important people and their actions are in shaping that history.
P.S. I read this during the American elections of 2016, and thought I’m not an American citizen myself, it leaves a horrible ache in my heart thinking about the loss of the slight progress that has been made over the years. Humanity has come a far way from how things used to be, but much too little progress has been made when it comes to judging other people; be it by the color of their skin or who they love, and now even that progress is in jeopardy. When I read a story like this, it’s so blatantly clear where the mistakes were made in the past, yet history seems to be doomed to repeating itself.