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Archives > [February] Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi - Part 2 (spoilers for Part One)

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Katie | 2369 comments Part 2 Questions

Section of book:
Part One (Through Abena)

Notes:
- Each member is asked to end with a question for the next member.
- If the person above you forgets to pose a question then just pick a different one from above (make sure you indicate which one you're answering!)
- If some other question from above moves you then feel free to answer as many as you want. It is a discussion after all!


1. Are you enjoying the book so far?
2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?
3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?
4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?
5. Answer the question posed by the person above you!


Hannah | 9 comments 1. Yes, although I have to keep looking back at the family tree to keep up!

2. I really like it. As it's such a character driven plot it keeps the pace going. Sometimes I get particularly engrossed in a character's story and so it feels like it ends abruptly and I want to keep reading about them, but I like that you usually follow them up into their old age through the eyes of their children in the next chapter.

3. I don't think I could pick a single one. Maybe the desperation of Esi in the castle dungeons. I've been to the cape coast castle in Ghana and stood it that room, it's harrowing.

4. Despite the namelessness, it still feels like they have more of a connection that we in European culture. Maybe this is just modern Western European culture and therefore not a fair comparison. I think it portrays an innate desire to know where you came from and how family is something that you both belong too and are independent from.

5. No questions yet, but my question to the next person is:

6. Is there one side of the family that you are enjoying reading more than the other, or does it depend on the person?


Michelle (mich2689) | 476 comments 1. Are you enjoying the book so far?
Yes!

2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?
It gets a little confusing at times (I keep forgetting how the characters are related and whose descendants I'm reading about), but I do like the structure. I love diving into each character and reading their story.

3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?
They have all been moving so far, so it's hard to pick a different one. Each character has gone through their own share of hardships and sacrifice. If I had to pick, it would probably be Ness' or James'.

4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?
I didn't feel like there was a lack of connectedness between generations, except in Abena's story and that was only because her parents wanted to keep their past hidden. Family has been a central theme in the novel so far, whether it is having a family legacy to fulfill, having to marry to bring two families together, or having to sacrifice to try to save your family.

5. Is there one side of the family that you are enjoying reading more than the other, or does it depend on the person?
I've been enjoying both sides of the family stories equally. I'm wondering if and how they will all come together.

My question: Is there a character whose story you're most interested in learning the continuation of? If so, who and why?


Molly (mollyrotondo) | 57 comments Part 2 Questions

1. Are you enjoying the book so far?

I really am enjoying the book. It's teaching me a lot more about African life and slavery. I'm learning a lot.

2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?

I like the structure too. I like focusing on one character from each generation because it helps teach about that new time period and the different issues each new generation had to face.

3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?

I really liked Ness's section. It was so sad but it was an important part of American history to examine. And Kojo losing his wife was so scary too. This section reminded me of World War II. Free African Americans had to carry papers around to prove themselves just like in Europe.

4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?

I am not surprised that there was a lack of connectedness between generations. People were separated so often from their relatives because they were either captured into slavery and sent to another country or they were chosen to marry the wealthy white men. I know that even in my family we don't have any connection to our ancestors. We only know about our family after they came to America. We don't know a lot about who our family was while they were still in Italy. Either people don't want to talk about it because it causes too much heartache or they just want to move forward instead of looking back.

5. Is there a character whose story you're most interested in learning the continuation of? If so, who and why?

I am looking forward to reading about Kojo's family. It looks like the next section is about baby H so we might learn what really happened to Anna.

Do you think Abena's child will end up in America at some point?


message 5: by Bec (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bec | 774 comments 1. Are you enjoying the book so far?
Yes I am enjoying it, but also a little disgusted at how people were treated back then. I agree wit Hannah in that I'm glad the family tree is at the beginning as I keep having to look back.

2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?
I think it's great - but again I have to keep looking back to the family tree to see who we are up to and where they came from given is alternates from 1 side of the family to the other. And sometimes I feel like I want to know more about each character when the chapter ends.

3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?
All of it! I was really ignorant to the slavery in Africa and elsewhere and this is really eye opening to me.

4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?
It does seem a little disjointed but for me it's eye opening as it's so very different to my family and life here in Australia in the present.

5. Answer the question posed by the person above you
Do you think Abena's child will end up in America at some point?
Hmmm I'm wondering if the sides of the family will cross paths at some stage which would mean potentially Abena's child ending up in America. I will go with yes for now :)

My question
What do you think happened to Anna? Do you think Kojo's family stay free in the future?


message 6: by Kelly (last edited Feb 13, 2017 01:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kelly Brown | 379 comments 1. Are you enjoying the book so far?
I did enjoy it!

2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?
This is why I enjoyed it so much. It was a different way to tell a story. The chapters were like their own stories, so I could read as many as I wanted. Now I definitely needed the famy tree. I also toyed with the idea if I might have liked it better if I read all of the chapters of one side of the family together, then the other. It may have made the story flow better for me.

3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?
Kojo's story ripped my heart out. Just the love he had for his wife and his family, and how life was just so unfair to them. Not right.

4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?
It does, and it doesn't. I can see it in my own family. There are generations the same way. I know it gets better.

5. Answer the question posed by the person above you!
Unfortunately, I had a feeling the worst happened to Anna....Kojo's story is one that I found most interesting, and then baby H's...


Do you think it would make a difference if the story was told in order instead of switching between different sides of the family?


Pamela | 632 comments 1. Are you enjoying the book so far?
Very much, I find it really interesting

2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?
I think it's a creative way to tell the story, although it's like a bunch of connected short stories where we pop into a part of each life so we don't engage too much in each life. I compare it to the Century series by Ken Follett where you follow each generation through the major parts of the last century but because you have spent so much time with each character you really feel strongly about future generations, You know where these characters came from but you also don't get too far into their lives that you feel overly invested (this is my complaint about all short stories)

3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?
Kojo because he had built so much and then loses it all.

4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?
Isn't that how family history really is? I'm an addict on all the genealogy shows, so many stories get lost! My nieces and I were talking to my parents after the Women March and my dad started telling all these stories about protests during the Civil Rights eras- I had never heard that! What other stories are lost? And I was wondering is knowing her story would have helped Abena, when she walked by the king's house knowing it was her family's? Or would she agree with her mother and the evil of anything connected to the slave trade?

5.Do you think it would make a difference if the story was told in order instead of switching between different sides of the family?
This might be a better book read on paper not kindle because I will admit when I finish a story, I skip forward to the next generation in that country to see what happened. But by switching back and forth, you can create comparisons between the two

My question:
What about James's choice to "kill" himself? Did he have to do something that extreme?


message 8: by Zaz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zaz | 3034 comments Yey, I finally found some time to start this one :)

1. Are you enjoying the book so far? I'm enjoying the historical side of it and liked some of the characters. I'm not a fan of the way the story is told.

2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?
Jumping from one character to another doesn't work with me because some don't interest me and for others I'm frustrated because I don't know what happened to them. It's a good way to deal with a long part of history but it's annoying for me.

3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?
None but Ness and her mother's parts were the most difficult to read at an emotional level.

4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?
It doesn't really surprise me as the book focuses on broken families, they often don't know what happened to their own parents, so sharing with their kids seem complicated. Even if they are blood related, there is a lot of diversity in the personalities and lives, so it's interesting to follow everyone and better than the usual 2 parents+3 kids stories.

5. What about James's choice to "kill" himself? Did he have to do something that extreme?
It seems it was a dangerous move but a fulfilling one in the end on his side. With the time period his story was set, I suppose there were lots of deaths from illnesses, accidents or fights, so people were probably less focused on death than our current generations. He had siblings, so for him the important things were covered and he didn't seem to still have a close relationship with his parents, so why bother?

My question: the black stone seems an important token for one part of the family, what did you think of the fact it was lost for the other part of the family?


Rachel A. (abyssallibrarian) | 2672 comments 1. Are you enjoying the book so far?
Yes, very much! I was a little worried going into it because I read The Underground Railroad not too long ago and was disappointed. Somehow, these two books have become linked in my mind, I guess because they both address slavery, so I thought this one would be very similar. I like this one a lot better.

2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?
It took some getting used to. I didn't like it at first because I thought it made each person's story end too abruptly, but now that I'm further in, I actually really like the idea of getting a snippet of each character's life and how their lives have changed across the generations.

3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?
So far, I've really liked Abena, Kojo, and Ness' stories.

4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?
In this chapter specifically, I found the lack of connectedness a bit jarring. I think it was partly because I'd just read James' story not long before, so it seemed strange to me that Abena knew nothing about him, especially since she lived with him. Other characters who never met their parents seem to know more about their pasts than she did. The further in I got, the more it started to make sense to me. The lack of connectedness across all the generations wasn't too surprising to me because of how divided the families are, with the risk of people being taken away or killed at any time.

In terms o f how the family is portrayed in the novel, I think it's a very interesting story and I like being able to see how the previous generations influence the following ones. The book gives a ton of characters for the author to manage, but each still seems to have their own unique voice and story.

5. The black stone seems an important token for one part of the family, what did you think of the fact it was lost for the other part of the family?
If I'm completely honest, I forgot about the black stone for the majority of the book until it was rediscovered toward the end of the section. I think it's supposed to represent the connections between generations, and the fact that it was lost means those connections were lost as well.

New question: Which of the characters so far do you want to find out more about? Whose story did you think ended too soon?


Veronica | 797 comments 1. Are you enjoying the book so far?
Yes, very much so. I had heard good things about it and wanted to read it.
2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?
It is different than other books I have read but it works. It is almost like reading a book of short stories, in that each character is a different chapter with a different experience. As others mentioned, I'm glad there is a family tree to help in seeing how they are related.
3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?
I really like Ness, Kojo and Abena. Ness was very moving, showing a mother's love. Kojo made me sad, with how he and his children suffered from their loss.
4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?
I think it may be how they deal with loss, as people seem to leave or be taken away at any time. Older generations either do not know their history or do not want to talk about it, which also leads to the disconnection. Some of the families have been close knit, like Kojo and Abena and some have had some animosity, such as Effia so it is like any other family.
5. Which of the characters so far do you want to find out more about? Whose story did you think ended too soon?
I want to know more about Kojo and Esi. There was nothing about Esi after she was taken from the castle and it would be interesting to hear her journey. I would also like to read more about Kojo and if he ever saw Anna and their baby ever again. I know the next chapter is about H so maybe there will be a mention of it.

My question: Part one ends with Abena. Do you think there is any significance to splitting the story at that point and if so, what may that be?


message 11: by Bryony, Circumnavigation Mod (last edited Feb 25, 2017 09:13AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bryony (bryony46) | 1058 comments Mod
1. Are you enjoying the book so far?
Yes, very much. I think it's beautifully written and the characters are all well drawn. Although the stories are often very upsetting I'm still finding it a very enjoyable read.

2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?
I think it works very well. For me it also helps emphasise how families were broken up by slavery and so people could be left very disconnected from their family and with little idea about their past.

3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?
Kujo's story is heartbreaking. I think it feels even sadder than Ness' story because even though they both have a similar devastating experience of losing someone they love, in Ness' story we almost expect it to happen as we know these kind of acts of violence were commonly committed by slave owners, whereas with Kujo's story there's a feeling that he's escaped that and should be able to have a more normal life (to the extent that could ever be possible for a Black person in that period in history).

4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?
Yes, it does but as I mentioned above, I think this separation of families was common when families were enslaved. It's perhaps more interesting to me that the side of the family who remain in Africa have become distant from previous generations.

5. Part one ends with Abena. Do you think there is any significance to splitting the story at that point and if so, what may that be?
My guess is that Abena and her descendants will become even more distant from their ancestors than the characters whose stories have been told so far. Perhaps that will be in a spiritual or cultural sense if she converts to Christianity. Or perhaps in a more physical sense if her involvement with the church leads her to leave the Gold Coast and move elsewhere - maybe to Europe or the US?

My question to the next person is: some of the characters experience horrible violence or cruelty as a consequence of slavery and racism. I found these parts of the book difficult and upsetting to read but I think it's important that they are written about as they reflect the realities of slavery. Do you think it's important that issues like this are written about even though they can be upsetting to the reader? Do you often read books with potentially upsetting content or do you usually prefer books that are on happier or more uplifting themes?


Sophie (sawphie) | 2920 comments I started answering the questions at work, then forgot about them and finished the book ;)

1. Are you enjoying the book so far?
Yes, I very much did! I was reluctant at first to read a book about slavery, because I tend to avoid too harsh stories (I read to spend a good moment, not to be depressed). The stories are sad, but not too horribly depicted, so I still found the book enjoyable.

2. What do you think of the structure of the book where each chapter focuses on one character?
I was a bit afraid at first that the stories would be too disconnected and too short to get to know the characters, but I found it quite fun to try and guess what happened to them before the story picks up again. The author really knows how to insert informations about the characters and their past into the story in an intricate way.

3. Is there a character or an event in the book so far that really moves you?
- I was really touched by Kujo's story. I was really eager to know what happened to Anna when I started H's chapter.

4. In the final chapter of Part One, Abena resents her father's namelessness. She knows nothing of James's past. Does the lack of connectedness between generations strike you? What are your feelings about the way family is portrayed in the novel so far?
What James did doesn't surprise me, but I always find it a shame when people keep big secrets from their loved ones. Not knowing shaped Abena's life, which would certainly have been different had she known.
I liked how the author took the chance to picture different kind of family ties throughout the whole book.

My answer to Bryony's question: I think it is important not to sugarcoat what people lived, if an author chooses to write about slavery, they shouldn't silence the horrible parts. Then it's the reader choice to read upsetting books or not.
On the other side, some authors are able to describe or hint upsetting parts in a not-too-upsetting way, like Yaa Gyasi did, and I found it very well done. You don't need to read 10 pages about whipping to know it's awful.

I know it's not February any more, but if someone hasn't answered yet, here is my question: Did this book opened you up to read more books about Africa? It certainly did for me, and I'm really glad!


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