Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

This is a book that explores science and religion in the search for an anwser.

The story is narrated by Gifty whose family consisted of Nana her brother and her mother and father who had come from Ghana to America. Over time, the family became smaller and smaller as her Father went back to Ghana and her brother over dosed on Oxycontin.

As the book jumps through time, exploring the family’s settling in America, fitting in and getting on with it not wanting to draw too much attention to themselves – the life of all immigrant families I am sure but slowly, slowly like a crash in slow motion we see the family start to break down with the fact that the ‘dream’ is not necessarily all we are led to believe. Interspersed with this breakdown is the family and Gifty’s faith, along with many embarrasing episodes with her mother in the church.

There is so much loss in this book that it very nearly breaks your heart and the impact of losing a brother drives Gifty in ways which she sometimes doesn’t even know. Is she a neuroscientist to try and save her brother? It is also about racism and being comfortable with yourself – the role ignorance can play in young people’s lives, especially about sex.

Sadly, neither science or religion can solve Gifty’s problem although the book is an exploration of what they can and can’t do.

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