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on 6 May 2017
I've tried to like this book, tried picking it up three times to start over but I couldn't get past the first 20 pages. I can't place my finger on what's wrong about the book, could be the plot, the lack of suspense or the author's style of writing but what I can say is, in all, it's a story you can stop reading at any chapter and not feel like you've missed out on something - that's disappointing.
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on 21 April 2017
Great book. Took me 30-40 pages to really get into it but then I was hooked.
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on 5 January 2015
Trying not to sound cliched, but I found this book to be one where the combination of characters, the style of writing and storyline made it hard to put down.

Some have compared the writing style to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but the style of writing especially reminded me more of Toni Morrisson. I found the switching between characters and time frames a little hard going especially in the beginning, but the book is nevertheless well worth reading. It is one where the characters live on in your head after you've finished.
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on 10 September 2013
This novel was chosen by my book group, and I was quite intrigued to be introduced to a new writer. The start of the story is original, introducing us to the characters and situation through the internal dialogue of someone whose fate we already know from the first line. The rest of the book presents the disturbing story of this rootless exiled African family through the points of view of the mother and the four children. These multiple points of view were the source of my confusion as I worked my way through. Maybe it was me, but at times I lost track of where we were, when the narrative was happening (it moves forward and back in time as much is based on the memories of characters, how they experienced key events), and even who we were. The author writes in an original style. Lots of sentences without verbs. Quite a few cliches popping up in the story. But overall a worthwhile read about family, love, loss and coming to terms.
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on 17 May 2016
I have not got the book on you iPad yet, am shocked and disappointed
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on 8 June 2016
I couldn’t get on with this book group pick. The writing is so self-conscious it gets in the way of itself. Everything is endlessly, repetitiously explained, with ‘poetic’ expansiveness. And the story? Well, the first sentence starts, ‘Kweku dies barefoot on a Sunday before sunrise...’ By page 30 he still hasn’t died, only reminisced as he stands dying, and I have begun to wish him dead! Looking ahead, I find he finally succumbs on page 92. My own remaining life is too short for this, so I’ve stopped reading, and I’m headed, with guilty relief, for my next Elmore Leonard :-)
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on 9 June 2013
Selasi has developed her own style of writing - short sentences, many of which are incomplete on their own, like brushstrokes. It means you have to read quite fast so that you can see the picture they are painting. In the beginning I found it quite patronising, and as I was reading slowly at the time I found it hard to feel engaged. After about a third the story picks up and I began to read faster and suddenly all of the staccato sentences began to form beautiful images and ideas. Which is fitting as Selasi appears to be very concerned about looks - she spends a lot of time talking about how beautiful the characters are - or how not beautiful other characters are/feel. There are lots of emotions, pretty descriptions and at the heart of it an intriguing and touching story. At times it felt a little staged at other times it was really astute. I loved the scene where Olu goes back to Ghana to meet his father who he has built up in his head so much, only to find an ordinary looking man in the throng of people at the arrival gates - no longer sticking out for his blue-black skin as he had done in America.

Overall I have just come out of a long phase of not reading and this book helped to bring me out. I think there is much to enjoy in this book and recommend it highly.
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on 25 May 2013
This is a story of a family. The shadow - or perhaps footprint - of Kweku Sai, whose death opens the narrative, marks the remaining characters like a bruise. The past is part of the present for the cast of complex, damaged individuals who draw you into their worlds.

The fractured structure, the geographical spread, the atmospheric evocation of locations and relations are handled with confidence and grace. For a debut novelist, Selasi's talent cannot fail to impress. This story is beautifully written and reaches the reader's sensibilities via sensory and emotional faculties.

The gradual reveals of how-we-got-here is handled with all the subtlety and sleight-of-hand of a classic crime writer, while the revelations of how familial and cultural ties leave (in)visible marks touched me and made me think, as does the very best literary fiction.

My own narrow perspective regarding literature and cultural comprehension cause me to compare Ghana Must Go to Half of a Yellow Sun and Things Fall Apart. This is unfair, as Selasi describes a family, and Adichie and Achebe describe a historical/political events through the eyes of a family/individual. So my sense of disappointment at the insistently internal gaze is my own hindrance.

These characters are certainly interesting to the reader, but so much more so to themselves. So I finished this with a sense of privilege of having being allowed into these heads, but also a sense of gratitude for being allowed back into the wider world. Taiye Selasi has undeniable talent and I will be eager to see how she develops.
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on 19 April 2013
A beautifully written novel that so vividly captures the orchestrated complexity of human relationships. I have laughed and cried with the Sai family and now, at the book's end, feel I've finished a long conversation with a dear friend.
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on 26 February 2014
The writing is really something, absolutely beautiful and full of unexpected imagery.
But the book just feels stuck in a moment, a very key moment - the death of a father and husband - but one that leads to a lot of very pretty and very rich description sans much of a plot.
It's a bit like a car journey through picturesque countryside and no end. A struggle.
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