Despite having been away from my Dubai book club for nearly a year, I continue to read the books they choose. I originally joined this group because they selected books that I might not pick on my own. That was the whole reason I joined this book club in the first place: they had tastes and interests in books so wholly different from my own, and they brought me into the fold of newer books, more modern authors. (I was stuck in the classics, where I was happy, but not very fun to talk to at parties.)
Before the discussion of the book, the founder asked us via WhatsApp for topics and themes, and I’m afraid I may have overwhelmed her with the thoughts I had at that particular moment: how we become like our parents whether we want to or not, living your life in a way that makes others happy but not you (a kind of self-sacrifice), how simple objects can tear families apart, how poorly family members communicate with one another, how parental neglect can cause irreversible damage, how (not to) let go of grudges …
This is the story of Maeve and Danny as they repeat their parents’ mistakes without realizing they are doing so. Here are two people who are unable to move forward with their lives because of an object holding them back. It’s a lesson about how focusing too much on the past can prevent you from living in the present.
What I hope to remember about this book is that life is very short, and we should appreciate everyone we have around us at all times.
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.
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.
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