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Transcendent Kingdom (2020)

by Yaa Gyasi

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2,0961017,654 (4.03)151
"A novel about faith, science, religion, and family that tells the deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief, narrated by a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford school of medicine studying the neural circuits of reward seeking behavior in mice"--… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
TW: death, trauma, racism, addiction, mental ill health

This is an excellent and almost unremittingly painful read. The POV character is the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants to Alabama, where she grows up in the only black family in her church. She is working on her PhD in neuro-science as the book moves back and forth in time, largely (entirely? I can’t recall and I read the audiobook so can’t check) through the writing, or rereading, of her journal. Transcendent Kingdom deals with the strains of immigration, racism, evangelical Christianity, family breakup, relationships, mental ill health, drug addiction, overdose, and death. The experiments the protagonist is doing require surgery and implants into the brain’s of mice.

Transcendent Kingdom is very good, but be sure you are up for it, because there are not a lot of breaks from the depth of sorrow the book conveys. Perhaps it would not have as harsh an effect on people who have not been affected by any of these things in their own lives, or who have more slack around them than I currently do. I read the book because it deals with sibling death, and I lost my brother a couple of years ago. His health was impacted by his own addictions which, combined, led to his early death, and I believe that everyone in my family struggles with the effects of generational trauma. So although my story is not the same, it is similar enough, and close enough still, to make this a very hard book to read. ( )
  thesmellofbooks | Apr 11, 2024 |
AMAZING!! I could not put it down... I laughed and cried while reading this story about, family, race, addiction, science, and religion. Major themes: Acceptance, Forgiveness, Love. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
Didn't have the emotional impact of Homegoing.. a little too pat ( )
  vunderbar | Apr 6, 2024 |
https://www.instagram.com/p/C4EGVKuPBaf/

Yaa Gyasi - Transcendent Kingdom: As a sophomore effort, somewhat disappointing - she’s obviously an excellent writer, but this isn’t her story (see acknowledgments). #cursorybookreviews #cursoryreviews ( )
  khage | Mar 3, 2024 |
Gifty is a girl of evangelical faith who becomes apathetic towards God after the death of her brother and her mother's depression. As a young woman, Gifty pursues neuroscience as a way to understand something of her brother's death but all the while reflecting on what is missing in her spiritual life. Seeking a reconciliation of her beliefs, her Ghanian-American culture, and the lab work she does, she reflects on her past, her familial relationships and friendships. Introspective and contemplative, it's a novel incorporating Christian philosophy and identitarian values even as the protagonist tries to move beyond them-- only to circle back. Overall a tepid read and a disappointing sophomore effort from the author of Homegoing but it may appeal to those who are experiencing a crisis of faith. ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Feb 21, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
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Whenever I think of my mother, I picture a queen-sized bed with her lying in it, a practiced stillness filling the room.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"A novel about faith, science, religion, and family that tells the deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief, narrated by a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford school of medicine studying the neural circuits of reward seeking behavior in mice"--

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Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family's loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive.

Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief—a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.
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