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These Ghosts are Family

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  4,649 ratings  ·  941 reviews
A transporting debut novel that reveals the ways in which a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations, in the tradition of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

Stanford Solomon has a shocking, thirty-year-old secret. And it’s about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Simon & Schuster
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Ms.pegasus Agree with Lauren, except Maisie Card tries to repurpose the story into a parable about how the past can never be buried and demands reconciliation. I…moreAgree with Lauren, except Maisie Card tries to repurpose the story into a parable about how the past can never be buried and demands reconciliation. I should add that I didn't think this was a very successful effort to immerse the reader in Jamaican folklore.(less)

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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,649 ratings  ·  941 reviews

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Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a LOT going on here. Fascinating structure, strong writing, powerful.
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
The connection of ancestors and how the dead still effect the living is explored in the tangled web of Irene Paisley and Stanford Solomon's family. Generations of family members are navigating their life decades and centuries later based on their past ancestors. A domino effect is seen when their Jamaican family members continue to comb through secrets, history, and lineage.

Each chapter goes through a story about a different family member. The multi-generational saga is weaves through different
This book was interesting. Still gathering my thoughts even after a re-read. This is multi-layered novel that started off fantastic but I lost my way several times during the multitude of characters. This felt more like a collection of short stories rather than one fictional novel. I enjoyed the writing & historical fiction aspects of the novel but at times I wanted more closure from some of the stories. The last chapter still seems off to me. I feel like I'm missing something. 3.5 stars ...more
The Artisan Geek
------------------BOOK REVIEW------------------
Did a video review of the book as well, it's a stunning debut!!

---------------AUTHOR INTERVIEW---------------

Had the chance to interview Maisy Card and talk about her book :)

This was an absolutely stunning read. So well put together, I'm completely blown away - would no doubt recommend this book! :)

A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for gifting me a copy of this book. So stocked to read it!!

You can find me on
Youtube |
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The family tree assignment we had to do in elementary/middle school ain’t shit compared to These Ghost are Family. Here we have a book that portrays as one man’s lies, betrayal, and infidelity but instead, you get caught in a whirlpool. Faking his death was only Abel’s way of introducing us to a family lineage that holds secrets, migration, slavery, deception, and revenge. I haven’t read something this brilliant in awhile. From the 1700s to this current year, Maisy Card has found a way to give u ...more
Re-read for BookOfCinz Book Club
I love this book a lot more the second time around.

These Ghosts Are Family is Maisy Card’s debut novel that features a multi-generational narration from 1700s to 2000s.

These Ghosts Are Family opens with the revelation of Stanford Solomon’s three decade long secret- he is not who he says he is. Thirty years ago, Stanford Solomon, who is actually Abel Paisley assumed the identity of his best friend, Solomon who died during a work accident. Abel who was workin
Kathryn in FL
4 Stars for the first 85% of the book and the remaining balance of the story was not quite two stars because it read like an unrelated second story. This part seemed to have nothing to do with the novel that precedes it! More about the ending below.

When I first started "These Ghosts Are Family", I was all in. I was thinking yay, another five star read!

This story's primary focus is on a present day character, who grew up in Jamaica only to move to England and then started an entirely new life in
Great storytelling. Interesting premise. Read mostly for entertainment. I enjoyed the book. A great debut!

4ish Stars

Listened to the audiobook. Karl O'Brian Williams was spectacular. This appears to be his first audio book. Hopefully it won't be his last!!
What a complex story, unlike anything I have read before. Its different strands capture the very fractured lineage of many who originally called Jamaica their home. This is a tale of family lost and found, of historic racial divides, of families broken and trying to heal, of the impact of centuries of slavery in the Caribbean and of white male supremacy and its outcomes, including multitudes of children of rape.

The story moves back and forth in time from contemporary New York to early 19th centu
When I first picked up These Ghosts Are Family I thought it would be a contemporary novel focused on telling Stanford Solomon's story. How he assumes the life of another man and the impact this decision has on his family for generations to come. Yes, it is that story. But it is also a sweeping historical fiction that traces his Jamaican roots back to the 1700s. In this regard it reminds me of Yaa Gyasi's book Homegoing. But that is where the similarity ends. These Ghosts Are Family is a totally ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This (debut!) novel covers multiple generations of a Jamaican family and it starts in the middle, when a dying man decides to admit that he faked his death to his adult daughter. This isn't a typical family saga in the sense of a linear story; each chapter features characters related to Abel/Solomon either as offspring or ancestors. It deals with the ghosts of slavery; immigration, and memory. (Some reviews use the word colonialism instead of slavery, which masks the actual content.)

Along the w
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars, 2020
I’ve been sitting here staring at my wall for the past ten minutes trying to think of a way to describe this book.

Stanford Solomon has been keeping a shocking secret for the past thirty years. He is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend in order to build a new life.

It’s an absolute mindfuck from there.

I actually think that this is the kind of book that people should go into without much knowledge of the plot. I didn’t know anything abou
Update: June 14, 2020

I didn’t love this book. These family secrets formed, as Miller placed it, “in the complication of roots, in the dirtiness of dirt,” drew too near. But there was true pleasure in experiencing such an intricately constructed, vividly spun debut heavy with substance, however dread. It evoked true admiration for Card’s choice to replicate the silences, the perhaps unfillable gaps, history’s inevitable incompleteness, rather than a more crowd pleasing, sweeping family saga, 500
Wow. "These Ghosts Are Family" is a fantastic novel! I decided to give this a chance even though I have a love/hate relationship with historical fiction. I must admit, this is the best I've read in that genre so far. I absolutely enjoyed every second of reading this, well expect the last chapter (got a little too magical realism for my taste). It's hard to believe this is Maisy Card's debut novel. Her writing is flawless. The prose was funny, moving, and vibrant. The characters really exploded o ...more
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads
What a debut novel!

After sitting with this book for about a week I have come to the conclusion that this is my favorite novel of 2020 thus far. This is one of those novels that when you finished it, you have to take a moment to process the experience you've just had. This book was such an incredible plunge into all of the twists and turns that formed this family throughout the generations.

Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his death and went to America to start over. The
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
simonandschuster #partner | Listen, put Maisy Card’s These Ghosts are Family on your radar. Put it on your TBR. Add it to your cart. Preorder it. Then read it.⠀

It doesn’t come out until March 3rd, and it’s about a man named Stanford Solomon holding a thirty year old secret. Stanford is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole another man’s identity. This story revolves around the consequences of Abel’s decision and tells the story of
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admittedly struggled with this one overall - I loved the writing and individually each part intrigued me, but felt it was a series of interconnected short stories rather than a novel. I felt like more time within each part would have strengthened this for me.
Read In Colour
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've read Bernadine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other, then you know that all of the characters in the book are loosely connected but have their own story to tell. These Ghosts Are Family follows this same formula, though I don't think I was aware of that before I started reading it. Nevertheless, the majority of the story lines and characters are fascinating, though not all are as fleshed out as others.

I was intrigued by this idea of a secret, stolen identity - living as someone else for so l
copy courtesy of edelweiss. Wow. Just, wow. This book was such an incredible dive into all of the twists and turns that formed this family throughout the generations. I was reading it like my life depended on it. Card transported me to a time and place I don’t think I’d ever have experienced otherwise. I’m hoping that the longer I sit and think about this book, I’ll come up with a more coherent review. But I’m not above shoving it at people with jazz hands and a “READ IT NOW!” for good measure.
Erin Glover
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This fascinating novel about generations of Jamaican families beginning on a slave plantation in the 1800's has a little something for everyone. Along with the horrors inflicted on individual slaves, especially the rapes of slaves by the masters, there is a heroin-addicted Jamaican mother in the US, a Jamaican who fakes his own death, adultery, and ghosts.

The addict's mother muses about her husband returned from the dead and her daughter's heroin addiction to the addict's daughter: "Other peopl
Nov 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, fiction
Affordable DNA testing has catalyzed interest in genealogy. Sites like and programs like “Who Do You Think You are?” propagate innocent fantasies of a link to royalty or to a historically prominent name. Author Maisy Card presents a darker option, one permeated by restless ancestral ghosts and unatoned for injustices.

(view spoiler)
lucky little cat
Mesmerizing series of stories of a family's experiences from slavery in Jamaica to descendants' present-day lives in NYC. One of those rare novels where every word feels right and true.

The chapters are loosely connected and chunks of the history are missing (like real life), so readers who insist on resolved endings and complete stories beware.

But readers who love poetry and powerful stories (no matter how fragmented) will want to remember this author's name.
Anissa Austin
Jan 12, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchanged for my honest review.

I was eager to read this book as it is a most anticipated book of 2020.

This is a do not finish book for me. The first part of the book is not written in first or third person. It is in a style such as introductions and events are introduced " Say you this and say you that". With this style, it is hard to understand and become connected to the book. The introduction of a book is everything and I think the author should have starte
Katie Long
Gah, I hate to be negative about a debut, especially one where the author is clearly talented and is experimenting with her style; but the non-linear narrative along with all of the shifts of perspective and point of view (especially in the earlier chapters) were complications and I could never see the intent of them. It all just felt muddled to me.
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was such a complex and compelling novel. So many characters, so many stories--I'm still processing it! At times I became lost, trying to understand and identify the voice of the character I was reading but it was worth it. Highly recommended! ...more
a. a. d. wolfe
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc

image via my instagram.

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of These Ghosts Are Family--thank you to Simon and Schuster.

The good: This was one hell of a debut novel. The writing was raw, vivid, and strong, and kept hooked from beginning to end. I was not expecting it to be more of a collection of stories, but I was pleasantly surprised. The story spans a large chunk of time and jumps to different characters and point of views, but the writing was so clear that I was not confused i
Lindsay Loson
3.5 contacted me and gave me access to their monthly audiobooks, so I'd first like to thank them for this one! This was my first positive audiobook experience. The narration was fantastic and lent so much more to this story than if I had just read a physical copy.

I really did enjoy this book, but I think it may have worked better if it had just been a short story collection. Though all of the stories inside of it are connected in one way or another, some didn't quite fit as well as they
Jherane Patmore
Peak Jamaican man- fakes his death to avoid familial responsibilities and that's just the start of this family's secrets.

The most complicated and accurate fiction book I've read this year that reaches deep and wide into understanding the post-colonial impact on families, all of these stories were believable and uncomfortably familiar.

To be honest, the first couple of chapters were a drag. When I started this book earlier this year I had to put it down because it was contributing to my reading
Gail (The Knight Reader)
This book was layered, twisty and addictive. There was no closure. Just facts and duppies 🤣 You have been warned.
Brittany J. (BNJreads)
These Ghosts Are Family| Thank you BIBLIOFINDER and Simon & Schuster for the gifted copy!

Book Review:

Have we recovered from the goodness that is These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card? No? We need a little more time to digest all of this tea? I GET IT! I really do!

When I said “PREORDER PREORDER PREORDER”, y’all I meant it! It’s about so much more than the patriarch of the family, Stanford Solomon (Abel Paisley) revealing his 35 year old secret. This book has history, culture, folklore, family
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Maisy Card is a writer and a librarian. Her debut novel, These Ghosts are Family, was shortlisted for The Center For Fiction's First Novel Prize and is a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, the LA Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and an Audie Award in the Literary Fiction & Classics category. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review Daily, The New York Times, Len ...more

Articles featuring this book

Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
217 likes · 79 comments
“Even though they were just words, they built a world that she couldn’t stop thinking about, that she felt trapped inside every night.” 4 likes
“She had been running away from her mother her whole life, and in the end it was her mother who left her.” 3 likes
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