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Transcendent Kingdom

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Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama. Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama. Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family's loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief--a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.


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Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama. Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama. Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family's loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief--a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.

30 review for Transcendent Kingdom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roxane

    Absolutely transcendent. A gorgeously woven narrative about a woman trying to survive the grief of a brother lost to addiction and a mother trapped in depression while pursuing her ambitions. Not a word or idea out of place. Completely different from Homegoing. THE RANGE. I am quite angry this is so good.

  2. 4 out of 5

    chai ♡

    I read this book in an intense, insomniac lull and it was quite the transcendent experience. Full review to come.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    A really sad and thoughtful piece that questions religion and science in the face of familial loss and addiction. Though the book didn’t quite hit me as hard personally, I still think there’s a lot of emotional depth within the writing and felt a lot of sympathy for the protagonist and her family. Since the book is largely composed of the protagonist’s thought process and her internal journey grappling with her faith, perhaps readers who have a closer tie to spirituality might resonate more stro A really sad and thoughtful piece that questions religion and science in the face of familial loss and addiction. Though the book didn’t quite hit me as hard personally, I still think there’s a lot of emotional depth within the writing and felt a lot of sympathy for the protagonist and her family. Since the book is largely composed of the protagonist’s thought process and her internal journey grappling with her faith, perhaps readers who have a closer tie to spirituality might resonate more strongly with this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    This book just ruined me! I barely breathe, breaking out in sobs. I have to pull myself together! Come on, stop crying. Here comes hiccups! I have to breath in and breath out! Wow! This is one of those books ripping your heart and changing your view and your emotional state at the same time. You don’t stay as the same person. You evolve, you hurt, you grow up, you get more open minded. This is a poignant, original, tear jerking, heart clenching story of a family who immigrated from small town of This book just ruined me! I barely breathe, breaking out in sobs. I have to pull myself together! Come on, stop crying. Here comes hiccups! I have to breath in and breath out! Wow! This is one of those books ripping your heart and changing your view and your emotional state at the same time. You don’t stay as the same person. You evolve, you hurt, you grow up, you get more open minded. This is a poignant, original, tear jerking, heart clenching story of a family who immigrated from small town of Ghana to Alabama for realizing their better life dream. They struggle to adjust, assimilate, be a part of society. Gifty, younger daughter of the family is our narrator, who is overshadowed by her popular, talented athlete brother Nana who is also favorite child of her mother. Chin Chin Man, the father of the family joins them later but he cannot keep his janitor work. He decides to go back to Ghana for a while to visit his family but he never returns back. And Nana gets injured during his practice so he slowly gets addicted to OxyContin. Even though he starts getting calls from major universities, having a bright future ahead, he starts suffering from mood swings. His mother tries to help him by sending him treatment camp. She keeps praying and praying but nothing works. Finally one day they find the officer at their door to tell them the earth shattering news: Nana is overdosed. Gifty not only loses her brother, her hero, her best friend, she also loses her mother at the same day. Her mother deals with her depression, slowly fading away as Gifty does whatever she can to raise herself alone and take care of her mother. Now Gifty is working hard to be neuroscientist, studying at Stanford School of Medicine. She wants to focus on reward seeking behavior to understand why her brother died and what is still happening to her mother. She loses her belief to God and religion. She wants answers and in her opinion, only the science, the concrete facts can give the proper explanations to their bottled up questions. This book bravely questions faith, religion, our beliefs, struggling mental states and the different ways to handle your grief, racism, assimilation, finding your own truth and path throughout your challenging life journey. It’s pure, heartbreaking, intense and honest. The layered, well crafted characterization, unique, genuine, riveting writing style captivate you from the beginning. No more words! I liked the author’s previous work “ Homegoing” a lot but I think I fell in love with this new book! I loved it more. One of the best 2020 fiction reading of the year. blog instagram facebook twitter

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    [3.5 stars] “What’s the point of all of this?” is a question that separates humans from other animals. Our curiosity around this issue has sparked everything from science to literature to philosophy to religion. When the answer to this question is “Because God deemed it so,” we might feel comforted. But what if the answer to this question is “I don’t know,” or worse still, “Nothing”? Transcendent Kingdom is a story of grief, of struggling to find meaning in the seemingly meaningless. At times [3.5 stars] “What’s the point of all of this?” is a question that separates humans from other animals. Our curiosity around this issue has sparked everything from science to literature to philosophy to religion. When the answer to this question is “Because God deemed it so,” we might feel comforted. But what if the answer to this question is “I don’t know,” or worse still, “Nothing”? Transcendent Kingdom is a story of grief, of struggling to find meaning in the seemingly meaningless. At times it tiptoes around despair and at others it plunges you headfirst into it. There are images in this story—like that of a mother and daughter attempting to lift their drug-addled son/brother into a car while pedestrians helplessly watch—that will stick with me for a very long time. There are themes explored in this story—like the internal struggle of a young person unlearning everything they were raised to believe, like science versus religion—that I myself have wrestled with. There are sentences in this story—“If I’ve thought of my mother as callous, and many times I have, then it is important to remind myself what a callus is: the hardened tissue that forms over a wound. And what a wound my father leaving was.”—that pack a gut-wrenching punch. And despite all of that, something didn’t quite land for me. No doubt Yaa Gyasi understands people. Her debut Homegoing was one of the best books I’ve read in the last five years. The structure was taut and allowed for her creativity to flourish within the confines of a historical tale, leaving room for characters to breathe and move on the page. In similar ways, Gyasi does the same thing here. Gifty is one of the most fully realized characters I’ve read about in some time. She is experimenting, finding herself, all the unsavory bits we keep hidden in the dark, especially after trauma. She is mean and spiteful, but tender and desperately needing affection. It’s a complex portrait of recovery that takes years, even a lifetime, to master. I think what lost me in this novel, however, was the structure. It’s amorphous, jumping around in time and space like the frenzied mind of someone trying to cope with loss, latching on to memories as they surface and unpacking them for the reader. While it logically makes sense for the story Gyasi is telling, it was hard at times to feel rooted in Gifty’s work, because she too often feels unmoored. Perhaps on a re-read, I would find my footing better. This is definitely a book that I appreciate, respect, admire, more than I love. Gyasi continues to prove her skills as a character-crafter and sentence-writer, but unfortunately the storytelling in this left something to be desired.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paris (parisperusing)

    “Nana’s addiction had become the sun around which all our lives revolved. I didn’t want to stare directly at it. … She thought the problem would just go away, because what did we know about addiction? What, other than the ‘just say no campaigns,’ was there to guide any of us through the jungle of this?” In her sophomore novel, Transcendent Kingdom, Yaa Gyasi sorely demonstrates the pressures Black youth must come to terms with when forced to “do the hardest thing,” to do more than what is humanl “Nana’s addiction had become the sun around which all our lives revolved. I didn’t want to stare directly at it. … She thought the problem would just go away, because what did we know about addiction? What, other than the ‘just say no campaigns,’ was there to guide any of us through the jungle of this?” In her sophomore novel, Transcendent Kingdom, Yaa Gyasi sorely demonstrates the pressures Black youth must come to terms with when forced to “do the hardest thing,” to do more than what is humanly and emotionally possible to save a family, even if that means breaking ourselves past the limits of flesh and bone. Such is the dilemma of a young Ghanaian woman named Gifty who, endeavoring toward her Ph.D. in neuroscience, bears the heaviest cross of all as the storyteller of her family’s ruin — from the terrible trajectory of her beloved brother Nana’s war with addiction to her mother’s paralyzing attempted suicide. At 28, Gifty already carries the weight of both the living and the dead on her shoulders. With her brother gone, her mother silenced, and her father absconded across the pond, Gifty must salvage the bones of her past, present, and future with little more than hope and love to lead the way. In her pained attempts at finding closure in her faltering Evangelicalism and in performing restraint and reward experiments on lab mice, Gifty discovers a reason to push forward, to live and let go of what haunts her, while forging a future that is entirely her own. Written with the tenderness and tenacity of Jesmyn Ward and Jacqueline Woodson, I could not imagine anyone but Gyasi to lay bare the austerities of mental health and addiction in the Black family. If Homegoing made Gyasi a marvel, Transcendent Kingdom will make her legendary.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    I feel uncharitable criticizing a book so personal to the author and so relatable to me (I wish I didn't live through some, a lot of this), but I think this novel would have been better written a couple of decades later in Gyasi's career, with more perspective, life experience and knowledge. Transcendent Kingdom reads so deeply felt when it talks about Gifty's family's struggles and complex relationships in both America and Ghana, and yet so immature and pedestrian when it tries to tackle questio I feel uncharitable criticizing a book so personal to the author and so relatable to me (I wish I didn't live through some, a lot of this), but I think this novel would have been better written a couple of decades later in Gyasi's career, with more perspective, life experience and knowledge. Transcendent Kingdom reads so deeply felt when it talks about Gifty's family's struggles and complex relationships in both America and Ghana, and yet so immature and pedestrian when it tries to tackle questions of science and religion, or anything really. Every factoid about opioids addiction or treatment of mental illness, intersection of religion and science or sexism and racism in academia is of the quality of a high school report. These subjects have been written on by better authors with more insight. Reading about these issues in this novel made me think it was meant for a YA audience (not an insult, just an observation). This is a novel that tries to be about many complex and important things, but succeeds only at being a story of a woman of Ghanaian heritage who's been through a lot of familial turmoil, IMO.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook... read by the brilliant Bahni Turpin Yaa Gyasi is insanely talented!! This book shimmers from start to finish! Loved, loved, loved it!!! Highly addictive enjoyable novel. It’s hilarious and intimate... sad but bouncy .... Contemporary American life - dealing with issues of immigration, a Ghanaian family— from Alabama to California— a look at education, God, Faith, science, religion, growing up ( funny bone laughs), dating, loneliness, loss, grief, guilt, racism, identity, addiction, mental Audiobook... read by the brilliant Bahni Turpin Yaa Gyasi is insanely talented!! This book shimmers from start to finish! Loved, loved, loved it!!! Highly addictive enjoyable novel. It’s hilarious and intimate... sad but bouncy .... Contemporary American life - dealing with issues of immigration, a Ghanaian family— from Alabama to California— a look at education, God, Faith, science, religion, growing up ( funny bone laughs), dating, loneliness, loss, grief, guilt, racism, identity, addiction, mental health issues of depression, (without the reader getting depressed), forgiveness, trips down memory lane, psychologically astute.... an array of lushly woven tapestries of intoxicating - translucent - seductive storytelling treasures! Captivating with imperfect characters — One moment I was laughing out loud — and in the next my little heart hurt. Many creative juicy scenes are emotionally felt. ....From a naked egg experiment with corn syrup to learn the principles of osmosis.... ....To a date at The Tofu House in Palo Alto .... ....A party at a lab partners house .... ....There are many precious jewels in this wonderful world of fiction. Yaa Gyasi is becoming a favorite author!!! From Alabama to California— rich and fully alive!!! 5 strong stars *****

  9. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars, rounded up. Yaa Gyasi's newest novel, Transcendent Kingdom , is a beautiful, moving look at grief, faith, family, and science. Gifty is studying for her PhD in neuroscience at Stanford. Her research deals with depression and addiction, two things she knows all too well. Her older brother Nana, a talented basketball player, died of an overdose after getting addicted to OxyContin following an injury, and her mother has been virtually bedridden with grief and depression since his death 4.5 stars, rounded up. Yaa Gyasi's newest novel, Transcendent Kingdom , is a beautiful, moving look at grief, faith, family, and science. Gifty is studying for her PhD in neuroscience at Stanford. Her research deals with depression and addiction, two things she knows all too well. Her older brother Nana, a talented basketball player, died of an overdose after getting addicted to OxyContin following an injury, and her mother has been virtually bedridden with grief and depression since his death a number of years ago. While Gifty hopes to find scientific explanations for the issues that affected her family and so many others, she doesn’t truly understand the toll they’ve taken on her emotionally until her mother comes to stay with her. And as Gifty tries to find ways of reaching her mother, and struggles with completing her own work, she remembers the days of attending her mother’s evangelical church and the comforts and challenges it brought her. This was such a gorgeously written book, a story of racism and the immigrant experience, the pain of addiction, depression, and loss, and the clarifying power for some of both science and faith. I felt like the emotions of this book almost snuck up on me the way they did Gifty. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html. Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Gifty is the narrator of this story. She is a young woman/grad student, daughter of Ghanaian immigrants and she is studying neuroscience.. trying to find what lies at the core of human beings. Gifty, as a young girl, was very involved in her mother’s Christian faith and wrote many letters to God about her family etc.. When she suffers the death of her older brother Nana from opioid overdose and then her mother’s nervous breakdown, her questions regarding God and the “soul” surface. The science and e Gifty is the narrator of this story. She is a young woman/grad student, daughter of Ghanaian immigrants and she is studying neuroscience.. trying to find what lies at the core of human beings. Gifty, as a young girl, was very involved in her mother’s Christian faith and wrote many letters to God about her family etc.. When she suffers the death of her older brother Nana from opioid overdose and then her mother’s nervous breakdown, her questions regarding God and the “soul” surface. The science and experiments she is involved with seem to help give her some answers. This story goes back and forth from her and her brother as children, and after the tragedy. Quite heartbreaking ...

  11. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    YAA GYASI DID IT AGAIN!!!! PREPARED TO BE RUINED! I finished reading this book four days ago and my heart is still aching. I still cannot stop thinking about the characters, about the writing about the greatness I just read. I am suffering from the biggest book hangover from one of my favorite books of 2020. 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 fami YAA GYASI DID IT AGAIN!!!! PREPARED TO BE RUINED! I finished reading this book four days ago and my heart is still aching. I still cannot stop thinking about the characters, about the writing about the greatness I just read. I am suffering from the biggest book hangover from one of my favorite books of 2020. 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. ifty’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 overdose. 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. As Christian 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. I was blown away by the accuracy and poignancy as the author’s exploration of faith and belief. 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. Honestly, I could go on and on about this book. I went in expecting to be underwhelmed or comparing this to Homegoing but I was SHOOK at how Gyasi took a total 180 and brought us something fresh, excellent and real. If you are looking for your next favourite book- THIS IS IT!!! WOW!!!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    “I would always have something to prove,” the narrator of Yaa Gyasi’s new novel says. “Nothing but blazing brilliance would be enough to prove it.” In such passages of mingled frustration and determination, one senses an element of autobiography. When she was just 25, Gyasi reportedly sold her debut novel, “Homegoing,” for $1 million. It was the kind of financial windfall that whips up fawning publicity and — despite the book’s success — skepticism. If there are any skeptics left, they can stand do “I would always have something to prove,” the narrator of Yaa Gyasi’s new novel says. “Nothing but blazing brilliance would be enough to prove it.” In such passages of mingled frustration and determination, one senses an element of autobiography. When she was just 25, Gyasi reportedly sold her debut novel, “Homegoing,” for $1 million. It was the kind of financial windfall that whips up fawning publicity and — despite the book’s success — skepticism. If there are any skeptics left, they can stand down now. “Homegoing” wasn’t beginner’s luck. Gyasi’s new novel, “Transcendent Kingdom,” is a book of blazing brilliance. What’s more, it’s entirely unlike “Homegoing.” That debut, as many fans know, is a collection of linked stories that sweeps across four centuries with a vast group of characters in ever changing settings. In a completely different register, “Transcendent Kingdom” is still and ruminative — a novel of profound scientific and spiritual reflection that recalls the works of Richard Powers and Marilynne Robinson. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

    I haven't read the first book by the author but once I started reading this latest release, I got completely hooked! This is the story of Gifty who now works as a PHD candidate doing research on mice regarding addiction and drug dependence. The story goes back and forth how she grew up with her mom, her brother and her almost absent dad. The story is centred on depression, racism and discrimination, poverty, a dysfunctional family, drug addiction, death, grief and religion. This story is heartbre I haven't read the first book by the author but once I started reading this latest release, I got completely hooked! This is the story of Gifty who now works as a PHD candidate doing research on mice regarding addiction and drug dependence. The story goes back and forth how she grew up with her mom, her brother and her almost absent dad. The story is centred on depression, racism and discrimination, poverty, a dysfunctional family, drug addiction, death, grief and religion. This story is heartbreaking. But I feel like the main character is developed in such a way as if to tell whatever hardships come, you have to face them head-on. I love her character. She isn't perfect; she isn't your outspoken female character but what she's is what she is - single handedly took care of her career and her difficult mother till the end. It tries to tell that as long as you succeed, everybody's your well-wisher. But the moment you lose, everyone just stops caring even if you drop dead. Yes, that's the case here. The important lesson I learnt from this is that even if you have a toxic family, there's nothing else that's more important than your family. Even if you want to escape and run away, the best is to do something for yourself alongside supporting your family when they need you. Trigger warnings for drug misuse, addiction, suicidal tendency and self-harm, domestic violence The writing is beautiful. However, I feel the book could have ended better.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Jeffers

    If, in ten years, this doesn't end up on every 'Best of the Decade' list, I don't know what to believe. This novel is astonishing and I hope it's one of the biggest books of 2020.

  15. 5 out of 5

    emma

    clear my schedule for the rest of the week. i need at least 3 business days to stare lovingly at this cover

  16. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 A much slower, understated book than her first. Told in the first person it is also more personal, centering on one family that had come to Alabama from Ghana. Gifty is our narrator and she is now grown, working in Stanford's labs. It goes back and forth from a time when her family was complete, to the present where it is just Fifty and he mother. A mother who suffers from major depression. The themes are many, touching on subjects both common and relatable. Mental illness, addiction, love, 3.5 A much slower, understated book than her first. Told in the first person it is also more personal, centering on one family that had come to Alabama from Ghana. Gifty is our narrator and she is now grown, working in Stanford's labs. It goes back and forth from a time when her family was complete, to the present where it is just Fifty and he mother. A mother who suffers from major depression. The themes are many, touching on subjects both common and relatable. Mental illness, addiction, love, loss, and race. Never feeling as if she fits anywhere, she turns to religion and science. As we see both of these have limitations that Gifty must navigate, find her own answers, her own place. I had a hard time rating this book, it was told in such an unemotional voice it was difficult for me to connect to Gifty. Her challenges though, did draw me in as a few of the subjects are one that have affected a person close to myself. It also had much more about religion than I am used to reading or even feel comfortable with. Despite those reservations, this is a good book and one that is well worth reading. It does take patience though as the pace is very slow.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    5 strong stars: I absolutely LOVED every second of listening to “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi. Narrator Bahni Turpin is magnificent in her differing voices, my favorite being the voice of protagonists Gifty’s mother. Yet, this story is so amazing, so abundant with real and emotional observations, I wish I had the hard copy. Turpin gave the story life; Gyasi gave the story the complexity of humanity. There are so many passages that are notable and cause for pause. Our narrator, Gifty, is a G 5 strong stars: I absolutely LOVED every second of listening to “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi. Narrator Bahni Turpin is magnificent in her differing voices, my favorite being the voice of protagonists Gifty’s mother. Yet, this story is so amazing, so abundant with real and emotional observations, I wish I had the hard copy. Turpin gave the story life; Gyasi gave the story the complexity of humanity. There are so many passages that are notable and cause for pause. Our narrator, Gifty, is a Ghanaian American who grew up in Huntsville Alabama. Her mother, a deeply devout Christian, found an evangelical church for worship. Growing up, church was a bedrock of Gifty’s essence. As Gifty aged, she realized that her church was primarily white. So Gifty learned of racism early. She never saw herself as black, she saw herself as Ghanaian. The stinging realization of racism left her with more questions for God. Her brother grew into a gifted and tall athlete. An unfortunate ankle twist left him with a prescription for opiates. He fell victim to the struggles of addiction. From her church fellow, she learned that “her people” aka “black people”, have issues with addiction. As her brother battled his addiction, Gifty felt embarrassed, angered, and empathetic. This formed her resilience to be the studious immigrant child which lead to her interest in science. Her mother had troubles with depression, exacerbated by the fact that she refused to acknowledge her problems. As a young adult, she gave great thought to religious beliefs versus science. She found at university, the science students were largely atheist, not seeing where science and religion intersected. This further left her adrift, not fitting in, and lonely. The story is told in a nonlinear fashion, with glimpses of Gifty’s life. She is reflecting as a young adult. The story begins when she’s in a post graduate lab at Stanford. Her undergraduate was at Harvard. At both universities she is an enigma, being both a woman and black, and in the hard sciences. She connects with few and trusts even fewer. Her rambling thoughts are connected, just not in a linear way. Her final scientific study is on addiction. Her lab rat experiments are fully engrossing, even with all her scientific terminology. I love novels that open my mind to experiences I have not had. I’ve read many immigrant stories and loved them for differing reasons. This one I found to be astounding in the religion, immigrant, science, mental health, and family aspects. The immigrant struggle is just a piece of a whole mess of cultural differences in this story. It’s a personal story which sweeps the reader into another life, another place, and another way of thought. I loved it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nnenna

    I’m learning that sometimes it’s better to put a book down and come back to it. TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM was probably my most anticipated book of 2020 and I consider HOMEGOING to be one of my all-time favorite books. I was so excited when I started reading this and expectations were high. But then as I delved into the story, I saw themes that I find difficult and I was resisting. I wasn’t in the right headspace, so I put it down. I read a few books in between that suited my mood better, and then I d I’m learning that sometimes it’s better to put a book down and come back to it. TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM was probably my most anticipated book of 2020 and I consider HOMEGOING to be one of my all-time favorite books. I was so excited when I started reading this and expectations were high. But then as I delved into the story, I saw themes that I find difficult and I was resisting. I wasn’t in the right headspace, so I put it down. I read a few books in between that suited my mood better, and then I decided to come back to this one with a fresh perspective, and I’m so glad I did. Gifty, a neuroscience candidate, narrates this story about her parents immigrating from Ghana to America, specifically Alabama, about her brother dying of an overdose, and about her mom struggling with depression. As she tells this story, she grapples with her faith, her brother’s death, and her relationship with her parents, trying to understand how all the pieces fit together. It’s a heavy book. I read the second half in a couple days and I had to take mini breaks while reading. I saw some of myself in Gifty, which was not entirely a pleasant experience, and related to aspects of her story, mainly in terms of having immigrant parents and the way she was raised. Reading about Gifty’s journey with her faith was somewhat uncomfortable for me and I think that’s part of what I was resisting. Like Gifty, I was raised in a very Christan household and raised to believe in God. Now as an adult, I don’t love reading about religion because it brings up feelings that I don’t want to examine yet. With Gifty and her mother, I saw a mother-daughter relationship that was distant and at times strained, but also full of love. These characters are so flawed and human. Even though her mother is not warm and affectionate like Gifty may have wanted, we can see that she loves Gifty in her own way. And Gifty resents her mother at times, but she also takes care of her when her mother truly needs her. That’s Gifty’s way of showing her love. Family, addiction, mental health, race, science, faith. These can be difficult topics to explore, but of course Gyasi handles them with grace, respect, and tenderness. The pain and suffering that Gifty and her family feel leaps off the page. I felt it in my gut, and it all felt too real. The more I think about this book, the more I feel that it was brilliant and that my reading experience with it was very personal. When you’re not used to being seen, when you’re often in the background, it can be a strange feeling to see yourself reflected back at you. The reflection is not exactly the same, but has enough similarities that you recognize yourself. I think that’s part of what I struggled with in the first half- I saw some of myself when I wasn’t ready to. Of course I can’t help but compare it to HOMEGOING. Although the storyline of HOMEGOING was much more in my wheelhouse, I feel like this book was similar with its emotional devastation. Gyasi’s writing is so powerful. She ends chapters with sentences that knocked the wind out of me. She humanizes addiction for those who don’t believe it’s a real disease and she shines a light on mental health, two topics that I think have a history of being shunned in Black communities. After I finished the book, I was reeling a bit and all up in my feelings. It’s a quiet and heart wrenching book. While reading I was grappling with my own personal questions, like Gifty, that I don’t have answers for yet. If I had any doubts, this book cemented Gyasi as one of my favorite writers and I cannot wait to see what she writes next. 4.5 stars // Wow, this book. I feel like I've been punched in the gut. Full review to come.

  19. 4 out of 5

    PorshaJo

    Rating 4.25 Honestly, I was not sure what to expect with this one. I loved Gyasi's first book, Homegoing, and it's in my top all time favorite books. Would I put such high expectations on this new one, would I love it, hate it, oh should I wait and read it? But when it arrived from my library, I was giddy and jumped right in. Transcendent Kingdom is a story told by Gifty, a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine. Gifty tells the story of her Ghanaian family of four liv Rating 4.25 Honestly, I was not sure what to expect with this one. I loved Gyasi's first book, Homegoing, and it's in my top all time favorite books. Would I put such high expectations on this new one, would I love it, hate it, oh should I wait and read it? But when it arrived from my library, I was giddy and jumped right in. Transcendent Kingdom is a story told by Gifty, a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine. Gifty tells the story of her Ghanaian family of four living in Alabama, a family that goes from four, to three, to two. Gifty is impacted by all that happens in her life and is now studying depression and addiction using mice to analyze for reward seeing behavior. Her father, the Chin Chin man, moves to the US but doesn't do well and flees back to Ghana, disappearing from the family's life. Her brother, Nana, dies after a heroin overdose after being addicted to OxyContin. Her mother, can't handle the death of her son and is very depressed, tries to commit suicide. All of this impacts Gifty as a small child and growing up. She writes in a journal, writing to God about what happens. The story goes back and forth in time between present day and while Gifty is growing up. Sometimes, it flips back and forth in the same chapter, perhaps same paragraph. But it's not confusing. Gifty is driven to find an answer, something, that can make her past more understandable, her brothers drug addition, her mothers depression. So much is packed in this wonderful story, a character driven story. There is a lot on Christianity, drug abuse, suicide, depression, loss, heartbreak, faith, growing up, science, and more. I listened to the audio and loved it. Bahni Turpin is a wonderful narrator and every book I've listened to with her as a narrator is great. She added to much to this one. Another standout book from Gyasi, one I'm so happy that I read. It's a bit heavy on science and religion and might not be for everyone. Overall, Homegoing is still my favorite. I was stunned after I read that one and had to wait a few days before I could read something else and stop thinking of it. I'll be adding Gyasi to my list of authors who I pick up their new books without question. Now, I just have to patiently wait for the next one.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ½     As she did with her novel Homegoing, author Yaa Gyasi packs a lot into Transcendent Kingdom.  Much of what's packed into this novel is brilliant, but I could have done without all the god-seeking. And the animal experiments. Unfortunately, that's almost half the book right there. The rest is stunning and I love the way Ms. Gyasi writes. I love the story of Gifty and her brother Nana. I love how she reflects and remembers their childhood, how she examines Nana's descent into addiction. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ½     As she did with her novel Homegoing, author Yaa Gyasi packs a lot into Transcendent Kingdom.  Much of what's packed into this novel is brilliant, but I could have done without all the god-seeking. And the animal experiments. Unfortunately, that's almost half the book right there. The rest is stunning and I love the way Ms. Gyasi writes. I love the story of Gifty and her brother Nana. I love how she reflects and remembers their childhood, how she examines Nana's descent into addiction. How she dedicates her life to understanding why people become addicts and what can be done to help them. I love how she analyzes her mother and their relationship.  The science is great, the explanations of brain chemistry and mental disorders are interesting. However, the use of mice to experiment on was ghastly for me to read about and I had to skip over those parts.  Also, I felt the author used this book as an attempt to talk herself into regaining her belief in "God" (not just any god, but the Christian dude. She ridicules someone who refers to "God" as female). It went on and on and on, throughout the entire book. Some questioning would have been alright and believable for Gifty's character. I enjoy questioning and exploration of one's spiritual beliefs. However, this dominates the novel. It seems like the author misses the comfort of belief; her character certainly does.  She shows the hypocrisy in the Pentecostal church she grew up in, but at the same time yearns for it. Ok, yeh, I get that. To a point. Maybe? But at times I felt like I was reading a treatise by a Christian apologist, not a novel.  I'm not sure how to rate this. It's a deeply moving story and beautifully written. 5 stars for that. But when you add in the animal experiments and the preaching, the luminescence fades.  3 and 1/2 stars but since Goodreads doesn't allow for half star ratings, I'll round it up to 4.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rincey

    This book is so wholly it's own thing and I love it for that. Watch my full review here: https://youtu.be/zdLb2jpcOlk This book is so wholly it's own thing and I love it for that. Watch my full review here: https://youtu.be/zdLb2jpcOlk

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    “That was the thing that was at the heart of my reluctance and my resentment. Some people make it out of their stories unscathed, thriving. Some people don’t.” In an eloquent and precise prose Yaa Gyasi interrogates a young woman’s relationship to her family, her faith, her past, and her self. Her brother’s addiction and her mother’s depression have irrevocably shaped Gifty, the protagonist and narrator of Transcendent Kingdom, who is now a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at Stanford. He “That was the thing that was at the heart of my reluctance and my resentment. Some people make it out of their stories unscathed, thriving. Some people don’t.” In an eloquent and precise prose Yaa Gyasi interrogates a young woman’s relationship to her family, her faith, her past, and her self. Her brother’s addiction and her mother’s depression have irrevocably shaped Gifty, the protagonist and narrator of Transcendent Kingdom, who is now a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at Stanford. Her quiet and controlled existence is disrupted by the arrival of her mother, who has once again succumbed to a depressive state, barely responding to the world around her, let alone taking notice of her daughter. Gifty, who spends most of her time in her lab, where she’s researching the neural circuits of reward seeking behaviour (by experimenting on mice) finds herself looking back to her childhood, her college years and her first years at Stanford. Throughout the course of the novel Gyasi weaves together Gifty’s past and present, delineating her self-divide and her fragile relationship to her mother. Gifty’s recollection of her childhood is free of sentimentality, and she’s very much matter-of-fact when it comes to recounting her brother’s addiction to OxyContin, the racism she and her family are exposed to in America, the lack of support they receive (“They just watched us with some curiosity. We were three black people in distress. Nothing to see.”), especially from the members of their church. We also learn of her parents’ immigration from Ghana to Alabama, her father’s disconnect from his new home, her mother’s desire to fit in and adapt, the rift caused by their opposing stances (wanting to return to Ghana/wanting to remain in America). After her father’s return to Ghana, Gifty’s mother spends most of her time working in order to keep the family afloat, so it is Nana who becomes the central figure in her life. In spite of their age gap and their sibling spats, the two are very close, and Gifty looks up to her brother. An injury occurred while playing basketball lands Nana in hospital where a doctor prescribes him OxyContin for the pain. In the following years Gifty witnesses her brother’s spiralling further into addiction, while her mother desperately tries to ‘save’ him. While these experiences have affected Gifty’s relationship to her faith, and she’s somewhat embarrassed when reading her old diary entries, in which she pleads for divine intervention, as an adult Gifty finds herself craving that ardor. In college she struggles between wanting to be alone and wanting to connect with others. Her background causes some of her science peers to make scoffing remarks or prejudiced presumptions, and the few people who try to get close to her are inevitably pushed away. Throughout the course of the narrative Gyasi shows how time and again Gifty is made to feel as if she cannot possibly find comfort in both science and religion. Yet, for Gifty, the two are not in opposition: “[T]his tension, this idea that one must necessarily choose between science and religion, is false. I used to see the world through a God lens, and when that lens clouded, I turned to science. Both became, for me, valuable ways of seeing, but ultimately both have failed to fully satisfy in their aim: to make clear, to make meaning.” Given that her childhood was disrupted by her father’s departure, her brother’s addiction, and her mother’s depression, isn’t it natural for Gifty to wonder ‘why?’. Why did her brother become an addict? Why is her mother depressed? Her search for answers, for a reason, for the ability to discern cause and effect, fuels her studies and in many ways her faith. Once she finds herself once again with her mother however her resolve not to talk or reveal her past is tested. This novel tells an emotionally devastating tale about love, forgiveness, guilt, pain, and identity. Reading this novel made my heart ache. Addiction and depression have left their mark on my family, and Gifty’s experiences hit too close to home. And yet, however upsetting it was to read about the insidiousness of addiction and depression, Gyasi incisive observations and wisdoms assuage my uneasiness. Gyasi exerts perfect control of her prose as she navigates Gifty’s childhood and adulthood. Her restrained style perfectly reflects Gifty’s self-restraint. She offers piercing meditations on family, philosophy, science, and faith, and Gifty’s quiet meditations on these subjects are articulated in a meticulous yet striking way. I’m not sure what else I can add other than I was (am) in awe of this book. It made me feel seen and understood. Some of my favourite quotes: “Nana was the first miracle, the true miracle, and the glory of his birth cast a long shadow. I was born into the darkness that shadow left behind. I understood that, even as a child.” “I wanted, above all else, to be good. And I wanted the path to that goodness to be clear. I suspected that this is why I excelled at math and science, where the rules are laid out step by step, where if you did something exactly the way it was supposed to be done, the result would be exactly as it was expected to be.” “It would have been kinder to lie, but I wasn’t kind anymore. Maybe I never had been. I vaguely remember a childhood kindness, but maybe I was conflating innocence and kindness. I felt so little continuity between who I was as a young child and who I was now that it seemed pointless to even consider showing my mother something like mercy. Would have I been merciful when I was a child?” “The two of us back then, mother and daughter, we were ourselves an experiment. The question was, and has remained: Are we going to be okay?” “My memories of him, though few, are mostly pleasant, but memories of people you hardly know are often permitted a kind of pleasantness in their absence. It’s those who stay who are judged the harshest, simply by virtue of being around to be judged.” “I remember what it was like to be that age, so aware of yourself and of the theater of your private little shames.” “It was boring, but I preferred this familiar boredom to the kind I found at home. There, boredom was paired with the hope of its relief, and so it took on a more menacing tint.” ““What’s the point of all of this?” is a question that separates humans from other animals. Our curiosity around this issue has sparked everything from science to literature to philosophy to religion. When the answer to this question is “Because God deemed it so,” we might feel comforted. But what if the answer to this question is “I don’t know,” or worse still, “Nothing”?” “Thought I had never been an addict, addiction, and the avoidance of it, had been running my life” “I didn’t grow up with a language for, a way to explain, to parse out, my self-loathing.” “I used to see the world through a God lens, and when that lens clouded I turned to science. Both became, for me, valuable ways of seeing, but ultimately both have failed to fully satisfy in their aim: to make clear, to make meaning.” “I like you best when you’re feeling holy. You make me feel holy too.” Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    [4.5] Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply contemplative novel about a young, isolated woman grappling with the trauma of her past and big philosophical questions about science and religion. Yet it does not feel heavy and ponderous. Gyasi manages what could feel forced and pedantic with a luminous touch. Gradually, Gifty became alive in these pages and I became immersed as if she were a part of my life. I wanted to hug and reassure her 28 year old self. A beautiful, true novel.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Warda

    God, yes! This announcement came through a newsletter I signed up for, which I hardly check. But THIS. This made me actually check it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Britany

    Faith and science collide in this novel about a scientist named Gifty who tries to reconcile some of life's largest questions. Personally, I grew up Baptist and went through many periods of my life where I clung to religion and God. I was desperate to have a relationship with the church and to be a part of something worthy. Like Gifty, I also did rat labs in college to study behavior. We trained rats to push a lever to get a fruity pebble, in the book its ensure but the reminder hung so close to Faith and science collide in this novel about a scientist named Gifty who tries to reconcile some of life's largest questions. Personally, I grew up Baptist and went through many periods of my life where I clung to religion and God. I was desperate to have a relationship with the church and to be a part of something worthy. Like Gifty, I also did rat labs in college to study behavior. We trained rats to push a lever to get a fruity pebble, in the book its ensure but the reminder hung so close to me. I was studying psychology for undergrad and Gifty is digging much deeper trying to figure out addiction and reward centers in the brains of these mice. Gifty is strong, too strong at times, she pushes everyone away. She struggles to maintain her family core. Nana, her brother stuggles with addiction and her mother delves into a deep depression. Gyasi's writing is lyrical and sweeping. The novel moves around in time from past to present and includes diary entries from her childhood. There were a number of quotes that resonated with her. I could feel the weight of the summers in the South. I felt Gifty's torment over the mouse with the limp, and the joy when she figures everything out. This will be tough for those that don't believe in religion, but no matter what your relationship with it is, you'll feel some of the challenge that Gifty goes through exploring what's real.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Crupi

    You guys – it’s as good as HOMEGOING!!! Narrower in scope but oh so so so good. Gyasi asks the most interesting questions in her fiction and then proceeds to answer them in the most delicious prose you will ever read. What a spectacular follow up to HOMEGOING. I am bursting with happiness. Five transcendent stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    ***NO SPOILERS*** The dust jacket copy calls Transcendent Kingdom a "profound story about race in America," "astonishingly intimate," "deeply moving," and "emotionally searing." It's none of these things. Yaa Gyasi's second book is a superficial portrayal of many heavy topics that fails spectacularly on some of the heaviest--systemic and everyday racism, and opioid addiction. Gyasi was very ambitious yet probed the depths of none of her many themes: race, death of a child, depression, drug addict ***NO SPOILERS*** The dust jacket copy calls Transcendent Kingdom a "profound story about race in America," "astonishingly intimate," "deeply moving," and "emotionally searing." It's none of these things. Yaa Gyasi's second book is a superficial portrayal of many heavy topics that fails spectacularly on some of the heaviest--systemic and everyday racism, and opioid addiction. Gyasi was very ambitious yet probed the depths of none of her many themes: race, death of a child, depression, drug addiction, and religious questioning. I toss Transcendent Kingdom onto the now towering pile of books that promises a big, gratifying payoff yet barely delivers. I was really attracted to and intrigued by the premise. The idea of a Ghanaian family living in one of the most racist states in the U.S. could only be powerful and the chronically depressed, bedridden mother very relatable, as my mother also was bedridden for part of my childhood. So I was dumbstruck that Gyasi gave short shrift to what should've been the best, most knock-out parts of her novel. It's almost sinful that the frequent racism the family had to have experienced never played a significant role in their pain. The Southern setting was squandered and waved off the few times it did come up and the tragedy of growing up with a bedridden mother a mere inconvenience. It can be argued that the portrait of the protagonist as an adult is insulting. Gyasi ignored every obstacle that, in real life, this main character would face. The infuriating reality is that, as a black woman in a white man's world--and working in science at that--the main character would run up against systemic racism at every turn. She’d very possibly never achieve what she does, no matter how intelligent and determined. And as a woman who grew up in a very broken home, she'd likely be very broken herself. This is a tragedy, another to add to the rest Gyasi didn't explore. Additionally, in her protagonist, Gyasi promoted the fallacy that the U.S. is a meritocracy. Transcendent Kingdom is a fantasy. Stylistically, the book is basically a meandering diary--a very introspective, well-written diary, but still just a diary. Tediously at times, the main character tells about her life, ruminating on all the heavy topics, doling them out in bits and pieces. She writes of her pain--and of the things that should cause her pain--with an unrealistic emptiness. She may be a scientist, but scientists still are human beings, not unfeeling automatons. Dialogue is sparse, curt, and unmeaningful. If any writing should make a reader feel close to a writer, it should be a diary. Transcendent Kingdom is told from the main character's perspective, but with so much happening to her mother and brother, they deserved to have their story really told. I wanted to feel the pain of the mother, a Ghananian immigrant working a taxing, menial job; abandoned by her husband; living in the South; raising two kids, one of whom dies of a drug overdose after she tries repeatedly to get him sober. She's a mostly mute, cardboard cut-out, and when the mother makes her bed her home after her son dies, Gyasi expected me to fill in the blanks of her pain. Opioid addiction is highly relevant at this time, but the issue is given lip service. The extent of the brother’s addiction involves sleeping or sitting in a stupor on his couch a few times, living on the street for days at a time off the page, and then dying off the page. All these topics have been done superbly elsewhere. The Goldfinch depicts grief in remarkable depth; Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction has set the bar sky high in its portrayal of the ruinous effects of drug addiction, on both addict and family; Amy and Isabelle delves deeply into a strained mother-daughter relationship; White Oleander shows what hell follows for a child abandoned by a parent. Transcendent Kingdom could’ve been on the list. As someone who doesn’t support belief in religion, I hesitated to read Transcendent Kingdom but changed my mind after hearing the book isn’t religious. However, the religion-themed parts won't be bothersome to non-religious readers not because they aren’t preachy (they’re not) but rather because they’re irrelevant. Religion in Transcendent Kingdom consists of unpassionate description of attending church services, hollow musings on God and faith, and insertions of odd little personal prayers. The overall effect is of a heavy topic shoehorned in for depth, same as the main character's (non-graphic) neuro-biology lab work on mice. I applaud authors who aim to write works that have meaning, and I therefore appreciate Gyasi's intention and effort. However, increasingly, authors favor quantity over quality in stories. Gyasi worked hard to tackle so much, but when newer authors squeeze many themes into one work, it's rarely not problematic. Obstacles. Pain. Transcendent Kingdom is brimming with these and not a one is developed or felt. An author cannot sit down to write about pain but then neglect to make the reader feel it and wonder why the work gets criticized. Despite a few spikes in my interest here and there, Transcendent Kingdom failed to dazzle me. Gyasi writes well, but that’s not enough and I’ll pass up her previous and future works.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Thank you to Libro.fm for the ALC! This book is unlike anything I've ever read. This read much like a memoir where we get a look at Gifty's life and we flash back a lot to her life growing up and losing her brother to drug addiction. Gifty's story explores so many important themes and really packs an emotional punch as we watch her in the present still trying to cope with losing her brother and slowly losing her mother. This book heavily explores Gifty's relationship with religion and how she nav Thank you to Libro.fm for the ALC! This book is unlike anything I've ever read. This read much like a memoir where we get a look at Gifty's life and we flash back a lot to her life growing up and losing her brother to drug addiction. Gifty's story explores so many important themes and really packs an emotional punch as we watch her in the present still trying to cope with losing her brother and slowly losing her mother. This book heavily explores Gifty's relationship with religion and how she navigates religion as a child and now as an adult. The plot jumps around between points of the past and the present and you can see how her past greatly affects her experiences and relationships as an adult. Trigger warnings for loss of a loved one, drug abuse, and suicide.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    "I would stand by her, be buoyed by her and this wellspring of strength she seemed so capable of drawing from......she would see me, my worry and fear and embarassment and anger." Yaa Gyasi takes us deep into the jagged relationships between family members lost in their own sea of hopelessness. Some of us have experienced the desperation of trying to hold up a loved one from drowning in the abyss while we feel the slow pull of its weight submerging us as well. Transcendent Kingdom is told in the v "I would stand by her, be buoyed by her and this wellspring of strength she seemed so capable of drawing from......she would see me, my worry and fear and embarassment and anger." Yaa Gyasi takes us deep into the jagged relationships between family members lost in their own sea of hopelessness. Some of us have experienced the desperation of trying to hold up a loved one from drowning in the abyss while we feel the slow pull of its weight submerging us as well. Transcendent Kingdom is told in the voice of Gifty, a sixth year PhD candidate in neuroscience at Stanford University. Gifty and her family had immigrated from Ghana and live near Huntsville, Alabama. She describes the hardships that visit upon them and the eventual return to Ghana by her father. Gifty's world revolves around her brother, Nana. Tall and handsome and a gifted high school athlete, Nana suffers a twisted ankle on the basketball court. While recuperating, Nana begins taking more and more Oxycontin to shutter the pain. Eventually, Nana becomes hooked and Gifty and their mother desperately try to bring him back. Every effort is met with defeat. Nana succombs to a heroin overdose. And now the world consists of just Gifty and her mother. Church has always been at the center of their existence. Yaa Gyasi sets them clinging to their faith with tight fists until those clenched hands give way to emptiness. Gifty's mother has taken to her bed in the throws of an endless depression. Not even Gifty's face in the doorway gives pause to her mother. But Gifty inundates herself in her scientific programs working late into the night. She lives in an unreachable world between obsessing over her mother and trying to keep her own wheels on the track. Transcendent Kingdom is beautifully written by Yaa Gyasi. She lightly holds a finger upon the pulse of the human spirit while portraying the mountainous weight of loss. Her character of Gifty has reflections that will glisten the eyes and leave you breathless. Gifty gives a voice to grief thanks to the stellar writing talent of Yaa Gyasi. I highly recommend this one. Transcendent Kingdom lights a candle in the darkness of indifference. We all carry sorrows deeply hidden from the eyes of others. Simply being human is the draw.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tara Rock

    Truly a gifted author and a beautiful, emotional novel.

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