• Rachel Penate

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi



SUMMARY: 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.


REVIEW: I truly believe that it is only in asking the really big questions in life that we can find meaning in the here and now. And it is in mediocrity — not questions — that we see the antithesis of faith. TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM is a beautiful reminder that the desire to seek is good, healing, and (dare I say) holy.

What I loved most about this short, densely narrated novel was the freedom Gayasi implored in Gifty's character to be deeply contemplative. It is an emotional, moving, and (at times) heartbreaking story about family, faith, science, love, and addiction and the intense ways in which all of these intersect in our lives.


TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM is a beautifully written story; honestly one of the most prolific writers I've read this year. But, I'm not sure this one is for everyone. If you consider yourself to be a reader who loves transcendent stories and doesn't mind a non-linear timeline, I'd absolutely recommend it. And then please, come talk to me about it! An absolute 5 ★ from me!!


SOME IMPORTANT SENSITIVITY WARNINGS are as follows... opioid addiction, unexpected death of a loved one, depression and anxiety.


(Massive forever thanks to Libro.fm and Penguin Audiobooks for this ALC!)

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