Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

This was a really interesting book about family members and the secrets they keep.  At the start of the book, the father, Kweku dies of a heart attack in his home in Ghana while his young second wife is still asleep.  Kweku was estranged from his first wife and their four children but they gather in Ghana for his funeral.

The book delves into the history of the family in the US.  Kweku immigrated from Ghana to the US for medical school.  There he meets his first wife, Fola, an immigrant from Nigeria who gives up dreams of law school to raise their children.  Kweku came from an impoverished family and dedicated his life to providing for his family so they would not want as he did.  But because this was his sole purpose when he loses his job he cannot cope and abandons them.

Fola came from less humble beginnings but her father and maternal grandparents were murdered when she was a child.  She thus longs mostly for stability for herself and her children.   So when Kweku leaves and she cannot provide for all four children she sends her twins, Taiwo and Kehinde, to live with her half brother in Nigeria.  He is a drug dealer and pimp and the children suffer terribly there.  They withhold secrets from that time until the funeral and it causes great hardship for them as adults.

The oldest son, Olu, follows in his father's footsteps and becomes a doctor.  He is married but has trouble showing affection - again for reasons which are only revealed in Ghana.

Finally, the baby of the family, Sadie, who was closest to her mother until a recent falling out, suffers from body image issues and an eating disorder.  She only sees how she fits in when she meets her father's aunts for the first time.

The writing style is very interesting - it jumps from character to character and from past to present.  It is also very lyrical - almost poetic in style - which occasionally makes it a bit difficult to follow.  But all in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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