Transcendent Kingdom

Knopf. Sept. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9780525658184. $27.95. F
Gifty was still in elementary school when the solid pillars that bolstered her life tumbled down. Her dad returned to Ghana, her beloved brother Nana overdosed on OxyContin, her mother disappeared in a morass of despair, and God stopped listening. Mentored by a biology teacher, Gifty finds solace in her studies, escaping Alabama for a science lab and a PhD program at Stanford, a place where if you asked questions you’d get answers. She avoids human entanglements, preferring time spent with her mice and the research that might shed light on the science of addiction. An intuitive and introspective companion, Gifty toggles back and forth in time, unspooling her people’s immigrant journey from a village in Ghana to Huntsville, AL, where racism manifested in a thousand tiny cuts. Confused, ashamed, and resentful of her family, Gifty surrounds herself with a protective wall of secrecy, pushing away anyone who tries to penetrate her carapace, until her mother’s arrival in California forces a breakthrough.
VERDICT Though it’s a departure from her gorgeous historical debut, Homegoing, winner of the NBCC's John Leonard Prize, Gyasi's contemporary novel of a woman’s struggle for connection in a place where science and faith are at odds is a piercingly beautiful tale of love and forgiveness.

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