Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Reviewed by Sam!
Check out the drunk review for Gyasi’s other book Homegoing
What I drank prior: so much wine. It was book club, which we don’t do as often anymore cause… well you know… covid.
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.
Drunk Overview: ok so Gifty is in her… almost? I think? Last year of her PhD program. She’s studying addiction and trying to figure out how it works, why it works, and how to fix it. We learn more about Gifty, the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, and her life in the states. If you read Homegoing you know what sort of emotion gut punches you’re setting yourself up for.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: so. many. fucking. emotions.
Characters: Gifty is such a fabulous character.She’s just trying to live her best life. But she has these other super significant people in her life like Nana and her mom. We only get Gifty’s perspective but the way Gyasi shows these characters through Gifty’s eyes makes me love and hate them the same way Gifty loves and hates them.Also, as someone who has at least one parent with depression… I totally get the need to take care of them. Neither of my parent realize that’s a thing that’s happened and I don’t think Mama in this story has either. This is entirely a character driven story.
The whole story is learning about the other characters through Gifty’s eyes and how they effected everything. Nana is like… the worst… I know I shouldn’t say that but it’s hard for me to believe the story of Nana. I know I’m wrong and I know it happens but I struggle. ALSO poor Gifty has to deal with mama. MY mama told me to put her in a home but stories like this make me not want to. Only cause damn. It makes me feel so fucking selfish. Gifty is the best.
Plot: This is very character driven so the plot is super slow, but it’s really all about her mom’s progress and her own personal journey
Writing Style: SHE KNOWS HOW TO PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE WITH YOUR EMOTIONS
What to pair it with: this is a Brandy. You sit there with a brandy, contemplating life, trying to find where you went wrong
Until next time, we remain forever drunkenly yours,