Friday, January 29, 2021

Book Review - Transcendent Kingdom; Yaa Gyasi

TITLE/AUTHORTranscendent Kingdom; Yaa Gyasi (Narrator: Bahni Turpin)

PUBLISHER: Random House Audio 

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction

FORMAT:  audiobook/LENGTH: 8 hrs. 40 min.

SOURCE: Publisher download

SETTING(s): Alabama, California


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A beautiful story about family, faith, science and religion.


BRIEF REVIEW:  I didn't think author, Yaa Gyasi could outdo herself after her incredible debut novel, Homegoing, yet she did with Transcendent Kingdom.  Her latest novel is completely different from her debut, it almost felt as if I was listening to a memoir.  The audio book is read by Bahni Turpin who was just fantastic; it felt as if she was speaking to me.

Our protagonist, Gifty, is a post grad student at Stanford in the neuroscience program. Her focus is on studying the behavior of mice in relation to addiction and depression.  The research is deeply personal to Gifty as her older brother, Nana,  a stellar athlete, died of a heroin overdose once he became hooked on opioids after a sports injury.  Gifty's mother, a God-fearing woman,  suffers from severe bouts of depression that leave her unable to function.

Beautifully written and a bit sad at times, we learn of Gifty's lonely early years as the youngest child and only daughter, growing up in Alabama as the child of an immigrants from Ghana.  Her mother often unable to get out bed when her depressive episodes hit.  At other times when she was better, she still seemed removed and/or focused on son Nana and her church.  Transcendent Kingdom is a multi-layered story that flowed so well. It offers the reader plenty to think about and it also packs a punch.  Although this is not a fast paced story, it is a deep character study and a story that looks at concrete science data versus religious beliefs.  We also see the racial prejudices expressed by those who claim to be religious. This is a book that will stick with me and I suspect most readers for a long while. Highly recommended - my favorite book thus far in 2021 and one I'll likely reread in the future.

RATING: 5/5

MEMORABLE QUOTES: "If I thought of my mother as callous, and many times I have,  then it is important to remember what a callous is: the hardened tissue that forms over a wound."

"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 that are judged the harshest, simply by virtue of being around to be judged."

34 comments:

  1. Great review, Diane. I'm planning to read this next month... can't wait!

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  2. I loved this book too. Thrilled to know it was your favorite of the year so far.

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  3. I'm so glad you read this! I agree it is a wonderful book and one of my favorites of 2020. This was my first time reading Yaa Gyasi but it certainly won't be my last.

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  4. Okay, you had me at science. I love books about science and this one sounds so personal.

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    1. It was so moving, I loved that there was a lot to think about.

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  5. I'm in the minority with regard to Homegoing, but this new one sounds like something I might enjoy, especially on audio.

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    1. I loved Homegoing, but, this one so much more. Try the audio.

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  6. I listened to it before the holidays - so good!

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    1. The audio was fabulous, I been to see what else that reader has narrated.

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  7. I've always wanted to read her books, so I might start with this one.

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  8. This is a new book to me but judging by those interesting quotes I would be very tempted to read it.

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  9. That does sound like a really, really good one.

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  10. Definitely putting this one on my list and hoping to work it in sometime soon. Sounds really good.

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  11. I haven't read anything by this author, maybe I'll give this or Homegoing a try.

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    1. I liked both but recommend started with this - audio if you can.

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  12. I liked Homegoing much more than this one, but I am so glad to see that you loved it so much. She really is an amazing talent.

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  13. This sounds so wonderful! I still need to read Homecoming though!

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  14. Love the quotes you included. Adding this to my reading list too :)

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  15. I have Homegoing on my kindle unread. I should either start that one or look to pick up this one-- sounds so good. I think my library would have it in print or e-book. I am one of those diehard readers who couldn't make the switch to enjoying audio, unfortunately.

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