This book weaves through time and history, and as a reader, I wanted certain connections to happen, but they never did. While it was frustrating, I also constantly reminded myself that most of the connections that happen in many stories are a type of wish fulfillment; this story never lets you forget that it isn’t really how life is.
What drove me nuts, you ask? The characters were aware of their family history to a certain extent, but I wanted them to be looking for their roots. It was such a strong desire that I had to put the book down from time to time and ask myself why it was so important to me that a person be interested in knowing where they come from. I haven’t been able to answer that yet.
Once I finished, I was left with so many questions. How can people search for their roots if they were torn from them? How many connections in life are really coincidence? How much history have we lost?
The world has yet to own up to its role in the destruction of Africa’s families and the effects that has on its descendants to this day. Somewhere in my past, my ancestors must have played some part, yet those are not the stories that get passed down. It’s part of the lost history.
What I want to tell others about this book is that I’m overwhelmingly grateful to Gyasi for opening my eyes to something I know little about. I originally thought the message from the book was “That’s life.” On further contemplation I’ve realized it’s actually, “That’s people.” My world feels a little darker right now.
What I will always remember about this book is the pain I felt as I read the final page and closed the book. I had relived the history of a people nearly annihilated. What never ceases to amaze me about life is just how much I don’t know.
Achebe does an incredible job creating a glimpse into the lives of a group of people nearly forgotten from history.
To modern readers, the pace is slow at first—the story was written in a different era when attention spans were longer and the demand for action wasn’t absolute, yet by the end the pivotal events in this book tore me apart.
Why had I heard of it but never read it? In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, the main character Ifemelu asks her lover, ‘Haven’t you read Things Fall Apart?’ That left me no excuses, so the moment I finished that book, I scrambled to the library to pick this one up.
What I want to share about this book is my favorite quote, “He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” We don’t know what we value until it’s gone, so pay attention to what you love and treasure it.
I read a lot and I hope to help authors with the craft of writing. I share good examples of difficult aspects of writing: point of view, narration, world building and more.
Occasionally I give editing tips and share insights from the world of publishing.
Posts on editing
Posts on publishing
Posts on books