Rating: 5 / 5
TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM by Yaa Gyasi was one of the book options in the Authentic Books subscription box and one of my highly anticipated reads so of course I decided to sign up for the box! I loved the author’s HOMEGOING earlier this year, so was thrilled to get to dive into this new release.
TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM follows Gifty, a young woman with family roots in Ghana but raised in Alabama. She is a scientist who is studying the brain, using reward seeking behaviors in mice to explore issues of addiction and self control. This line of research stems from the loss of her own brother Nana to an overdose. Gifty’s mother is dealing with severe depression which leaves her bedridden and dependent on Gifty in spite of a contentious relationship. Her father has been largely absent from their lives, leaving Gifty as the head of the family.
As with HOMEGOING, Yaa Gyasi drew me in with her writing. She weaves together multiple timelines as the story progresses, giving the present day story intermingled with a look back at how the family came to be where it is today. We know early on that Nana has been lost to drugs, but we get to know him and his story as the narrative continues to unfold. The same happens with the backstory of their mother’s sink into depression. I felt like the pain of mental illness and drug addiction came through well.
Instead of multiple stories over many generations as was her last book, TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM takes a deep dive into one generation. We’re given to explore Gifty’s relationships with her family, her coworkers and friends, her roots in Ghana, and her relationship with religion. The author portrayed Gifty in a very engaging way and I really loved her story arc.
I was so excited to hear that the author of one of my favorite 2020 reads had a new book coming out this year and I’ll be even more excited to see what Yaa Gyasi produces in the future! This is a book I would highly recommend you check out!