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Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi {ARC Review}

Blurb:

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 Ghanain 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.

Review:

I want to start this book by saying that if you are going into this story thinking it is going to be parallel to Homegoing, let me stop you right there. This book is in no way the same type of story. Is this book just as heavy? It is. In my opinion, this book is heavier. I had to sit with this book for a few days to get my thoughts and feelings together because I just had and still have so many.

This story drew me into it in a way that is almost indescribable. Gyasi takes the subjects of faith, science, mental illness, addiction, and family and weaves them into a story that is heartfelt and heartbreaking at the same time. Your emotions are topsy turvy throughout the entire story. You have moments where you want to put the book down because it is almost too much to take in but you can’t because you want to know what is going to happen with each character.

I can never resist a story that makes me look at my own life and wonder how I would handle what the characters are dealing with. This story made me wonder how I would handle a family member’s addiction, the basic rejection of a parent’s love, and caring for a loved one with a depression so deep that you wonder if they are going to survive falling into that deep dark hole. I also never thought I would care so much about scientific research. Gyasi makes you care about it. She sneaks that feeling right into your heart.

This book was worth the wait and you will want to take your time reading it.

Rating:

All four Golden Girls

Availability:

Available September 1, 2020 in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.

I want to say thank you to Knopf for my free copy in exchange for an honest review.

book review · books · Family · Human Trafficking

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao {Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.

When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima’s father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.

In breathtaking prose, Shobha Rao tackles the most urgent issues facing women today: domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism. At once a propulsive page-turner and a heart-wrenching meditation on friendship, Rao’s debut novel is a literary tour de force.

My Review:

I have to say that this novel should definitely come with trigger warnings. I am not one to shy away from certain subjects but there was an incident in the novel that was even hard for me to get thru. When I first started this novel I did not think that I was going to finish it because it didn’t capture me right at first but once I was into the story, I was hooked! This story is set in India for most of the novel and I am so glad that I have read I Am Malala because it allowed me to be familiar with the setting. This is one of those debut novels that people are going to be hungover from after reading it because it is so intense and touches on subjects that society likes to put blinders up to, especially if it is happening in another part of the world that you are not familiar with. Drugs, abuse, sex trafficking, and even self sacrifice. The extremes that Savitha is willing to endure to get away from where she is are just horrifying and the circumstances that Poornima have to deal with are horrifying as well.  The abuse that both of these girls have to endure throughout their existence is on a level that I could not even begin to imagine. This novel is not for the faint of heart but if you want a story that is going to draw you in and show you that there is another part of life that is not all roses and laughter, then this is the novel for you. I am excited to see what others are going to think after reading it once this book becomes available.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Book will be published March 6, 2018 and available as ebook and hardcover.

I received a galley of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

books

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood [review]


I said that I was going to do this review last week, but I have to admit I am just now able to get off the emotional rollercoaster that I was thrown on during and after reading this book. Where do I begin? Aha, how about the beginning. I promise to try not to give away too much information because I want people to read and experience this book on their own.
 

The story begins when a young Wavy is sent to live with her family after her mother is sent away to jail. Wavy is not your typical child. She shows signs immediately that prove she has not had a childhood filled with rainbows and ribbons. She doesn’t eat, talk or liked to be touched. It takes time for her to eventually let her own grandmother touch her and that is not until her grandmother is dying from cancer and even then she doesn’t let others see her interact with her grandmother. Wavy’s aunt and uncle do not know how to care for her, nor do they try to understand her.

 From what I gathered, Wavy’s mother seemed to be passive aggressive, even OCD when it comes to germs. She is also a drug addict and probably suffers from anxiety and depression. Don’t even get me started on her “father”. I put that in quotations because as far as I am concerned that meth making organism didn’t deserve to be called her father.

 When Wavy’s mother gets out of jail, Wavy goes back to live with her. Her mother does okay by her and her new baby brother for only a short time. Soon enough, “dad” shows back up and convinces Wavy’s mother to come back to him.

 After going back to the house on the farm, Wavy is thrown into the role as caretaker for her brother. Soon Wavy encounters Kellen. They relationship that they start building is odd. He becomes her caretaker of sorts. Making sure that the house is clean and that there is food in the house. He also makes sure that Wavy gets to school and even meets with her teacher. Wavys’s mother is in her own world of depression and drugs. Wavy’s “father” is only concerned with his business, women, and his image.

 Wavy begins to finally experience feelings that she has never felt before when she is dealing with Kellen. Kellen also reciprocates these feelings back to Wavy as she grows older. Wavy slowly comes out of her shell around Kellen. He provides the love and nurturing that her parents never gave her and a little more. Eventually, as Wavy gets older these feelings they have for each other develop into more and cause a ruckus in their lives.

 That is where is will stop with the “synopsis” review and bring you to how this book made me feel.

 I gave this book 5 stars before I was finished with it. I could not put it down. I was drawn in and it kept my attention even when things started getting weird. I highly recommend this book and I am quite upset that my book club has not read this book yet. I have voted for it every time it is one of our contenders and it has not won. I am so glad that I decided to read it on my own after having owned it several months, both the ebook and the hardcover. I felt so many emotions while reading this story. I did not want it to end. This is not a story that is meant to put you in the “feel good” moments of life. It will make you uncomfortable and make you think about what you would do in situations. We all say what we would do, but would we really do it? Although fiction, this story is REAL life. This story is something that is happening every day in our world. This is definitely an ugly, but wonderful story.