I'm really trying hard to get through this book in the hopes that the plot will get interesting. I'm almost half way through and it hasn't really engaged my interest yet. The characters still haven't been developed and nothing significant has occurred in the story since the first page. There's lots of hinting that there may be interesting pieces to this family's history but it's dragging out too long to maintain an engaging story. The author has a bad habit of using incomplete sentences and repeating the same adjectives over and over. A wider vocabulary and smoother sentence structure would make it much more readable. With all the positive reviews I expected to love Ghana Must Go. Unfortunately, it just hasn't been an interesting read so far.
Ghana Must Go is a brilliant and eloquently written novel that explores the meaning of a family unit and the crisis of unknown identity. Taiye Selasi beautifully, and almost poetically, tells the story of the Sai family, piecing together years of hardship into a reflection of Kewku, the father, and the legacy he leaves. Starting at a sudden death at dawn, Kewku, a highly established surgeon, falls to his death. While his death seems peaceful, the news about his passing ends up across the world, all the way to his children who are scattered around the United States.
Selasi magnificently details the relationships between the siblings; Olu, the oldest and most likely to take after his father; Taiwo and Kehinde, the true twins; and Sadie, the baby and their mother, Fola. Ghana Must Go goes back in time, exploring the identity of each the characters, specifically the complications they face trying to become perfect, successful imitations of their father. Almost like mini-novellas within the novel, readers learn about these siblings, the depths of their childhood and how it has shaped their being when they get the call about their father’s death. Wounds are exposed, years of unsaid horrors are brought to the surface, and the siblings, once separated by continents, will be forced to be together and share a moment of loss.
Fola, the mother, the last connection the siblings have to each other, reflects on her own issues, her close connection to her youngest, Sadie, who she fought so hard to save during childbirth. She deals with her wish for the best life for her bright, intellectually exceeding children, trying to break the cycle of the typical African immigrant family (one that moves to the states and the father moves back to Africa and abandons the family).
The book reminds me of the powerful move, August: Osage County, as they are both intense, emotional, and relatable to readers and viewers alike. They explore family dynamics, the specific issues behind each member and how all the puzzle pieces fit together.
Ghana Must Go is a breathtaking novel that pushes the concept of a typical novel, written in prose and verse that entangle readers emotionally, and you find yourself becoming connected with the characters. While the beginning may be hard to get into, the end of the novel will leave you wishing you could know more, be apart of such a marvelous work of realistic fiction.
If, like me, you find yourself bogged down a time or two, or discouraged by the seeming disjointedness, take heart. The last third brings it together and brings it home.
Home to the human condition. Family love and heartbreak, human ambition and the wreckage it can make, wanting to belong and, in this globalized world, wanting not to belong, art and devastation, the longing to salvage meaning from the struggle, it's all here.
Clearly written by a woman, but with a lot of insight into the male heart, too. Selasie has that rare gift, a feel for how life feels, and she uses it judiciously and artfully to bring a hundred flashes of insight and a few powerful scenes.
The family was devastated by an injustice in the heart of an institution that should have been safe from such abuse. The stresses that built up in the years of reaching that position just washed the family solidarity away. The mother's resulting depression led to even more betrayal. And many years later, the family gets together for the father's funeral, and secrets come out.
If that sounds melodramatic, then I have misled by encapsulating. The most striking thing about "Ghana Must Go" is the texture, the feeling that life's disappointments and frustrations are given subtle shape by the postures we have taken, but given life and meaning by the inner self which, in a real way, we all share.
Taiye Selasi has written a novel that made me step back and admire the writing more than the story. The writing is lyrical, beautiful, and very descriptive of Ghana. The title is taken from a forced exodus of Ghanaians from Nigeria in the early 80s. I lived in Nigeria then and knew Ghanaians in New York. I think this novel captures the friendliness of the Ghanaians, as well as the aggressiveness of Nigerians. I give four stars rather than five, because the storyline is sometimes a little difficult to follow. The author goes back and forth between backstory and current action and it's not always clear which is which. Points of view frequently change and so does tense. The story is about a dysfunctional family with a twist--the father (Ghanaian) and the mother (Nigerian) are immigrants to the U. S. When the father, who is an MD, abandons the family in America because of an unfair decision that cost him his self-esteem and a job at a hospital, the mother has to cope with four children and no money. I liked that it opened with an absolutely engaging chapter about the father's death. It's a good read. Overall, I enjoyed Ghana Must Go, and I recommend it.