I really don’t remember the last time I did a book review on my blog. On my facebook fan page for my blog I put up a poll of what topic to write about. The options were skateboarding history, literature, exercise/skating goals, and librarianship. I got a total of two votes, one for librarianship, and one for literature. I have a good somewhat bold topic idea about libraries, but I will sit on that a little bit to really decide if I want to go there. So by a vote of one this entry will be on literature. Just so happens I recently read the newly released novel, Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi. I purposely did not read any other reviews, and this is my opinion of this novel.
Prior to reading this, I just read Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese, which I enjoyed even though it took me awhile to get into it. So when I started Ghana Must Go I at first thought why another book about doctor families set in Africa. I was too quick to judge, and these two books are not really comparable beyond that. For Cutting for Stone medicine was the focus, whereas in Selasi’s book it’s a small piece of the book. A few characters are doctors, but the story is about their personal lives. I do think the popularity of Cutting for Stone, even though the characters were of Indian decent, may open the door publishing wise for other novelists that want to explore Africa for the setting and African heritage.
Now, I’ll focus on Ghana Must Go, which in my read is an experimental book. Most traditional story lines takes a character through a series of events. Something happens to the character, and actions follow that event. Somehow things are tied together, and issues resolved. Without giving away too much of the plot, in Ghana Must Go the father of the family who abandons them by going back to Africa dies in his home. The first few chapters explain his point of view, and the death is almost in slow motion. Then for about four offspring and the mother in America are each chronicled as to what they were doing at the time of the father’s death. Then it goes into the history of the families, and ends with them all going to the father’s funeral in Ghana.
To put the story line chronologically would be difficult. Part of it is the same time, five different reactions, different stages of life, and all to one event. Quite a bit of the plot is dedicated to the children twins, male and female, who even engage in incest. The first flashback of the female twin is a scandal that she was in law school. Then it goes to their young childhood, and then a traumatic year in high school that they went to a degenerate relative in Nigeria. To me I think every character had emotional events in their lives that they keep repeating in their thoughts. Although I think the whole novel is written in third person, it is very personalized for each character, so it’s a very psychological novel instead of a straight on action story.
On goodreads I gave this four stars (out of a possible five) because I was somewhat confused by it. But I did not give it three stars because I felt emotion while reading it. I think the confusion was from my own abilities as a reader and not the fault of the book. Lastly this is an interesting novel because it is the saga or storyline of the family, and not an individual. In one scene the younger daughter realized she envied the family photographs at her friends houses that showed a lineage, whereas being African they did not have lineage or a family tree.
Here is the link to the Amazon page for this book, also check your local library for it!