In one word: Grieving
Cannonball Read Bingo: Uncannon
I picked this for uncannon because Gyasi is giving new life to a story that we’ve seen many times over from the Eurocentric white perspective. There have been plenty of books about drug addiction (even specifically about Oxycontin and the havoc it is wreaking in America), mental illness, the crossroads of science and religion in academia, and an overachieving character trying to fix her heart by using her head. She is taking very familiar tropes and given them new life through her lens.
In her hands, Grifty isn’t just another Type-A character: she is an immigrant trying to unify her childhood in Ghana with her life in Alabama and make sense of her brother’s tragically short life. She is fueled by grief and a relentless and likely fruitless effort to shake her mother from depression. And yet, with all those heavy topics this book is very light. It’s a book of hope in hopeless situations. I found myself on the journey with Grifty, both wanting her to be more and do more for herself, but simultaneously understanding why she was incapable of letting others in and of moving on. I’m not a religious person but found the references to the Bible and Grifty’s reckonings with her faith as the realistic wrestling one does with when what they are raised to believe comes in conflict with their own experiences.
Gyasi is wildly gifted and between this novel and Homegoing has shown impressive depth and range. I am officially all in. Next book that comes up, just get my credit card number and send it my way.