‘Praise Song for the Butterflies’ Review

71c5TOjcPSLI am interested and devoted to all things from the continent of Africa. I find myself watching video after video on youtube concerning all things African. I love to watch videos about the different cultures, languages, practices. I get knowledge from travel vlogs, documentaries, and videos from native Africans speaking about their home. This book is exactly what I needed. It shined a light on to a ritual that is merely male serving and evil. I learned about the ritual servitude/slavery that is trokosi last year and it broke my heart. These rituals always seem to involve a girl/woman giving her very life for the idea of luck or idea of being able to evade bad luck. It gives those that practice this ritual the idea that the sacrifice of someone’s life for the betterment of others is the only way to stop the so-called ‘bad luck’. To me, sacrifice is a personal commitment, not the idea of offering up another person’s life. Sacrifice your OWN life.  It’s always interesting to me when people think they can romance karma’s retreat. This book takes you on a journey to see how this practice trokosi ravished lives but at the same time helped others find their purpose. This is a story about forgiveness. This is also a story about pure evil left unchecked. This is a story about the centuries of hatred toward black girls/women bodies and how they are used as footstools in many cultures. This is also a story about how your very own family can be the authors of your darkest hour.

Trokosi is mainly practiced in Ghana, Benin, and Togo. Aside from being a black woman who has given birth to a black girl, learning about this practice personally touches me because these countries are in my DNA. Benin, Togo, and Ghana show up being the highest percentages in my DNA makeup according to ancestrydna.com. I can’t help but wonder if any of my ancestors shared similar experiences as the young girls in this book. Ms. McFadden did a great job describing the mind of a young child and how evil creeps in to shift their perception forever. She shines a light on how lies, even little white ones, can destroy someone’s entire world. The theme of guilt is very strong in this story as well. You are able to see how everyone seemed to carry guilt in different ways. She captured the purest heart of a child. Tears were shed. Tears were shed not just due to the pain displayed but also the hope you will find in this book. If you are triggered by the mistreatment of children/women, approach this book while giving yourself self-care and take your time.

I believe in life and all that represents. I’m not really sure if I believe in bad luck or good luck. I won’t deny often wondering if this so-called bad luck has taken hold over parts of my life. However, I believe life and bad/good luck should not be used interchangeably. Life can often look like tides at sea. Sometimes gifts are brought in through the tide and other times hard lessons. Its ever moving, ever changing, ever evolving. It is up to us to constantly adjust to how we react to said life. Sometimes there are calming ripples and other times the waves of life will try to rip you apart. Yet, you still manage to find a reason to smile in the midst of it all. This is a story about how Abeo’s life was turned upside down because life happened and someone else decided she had to pay with her innocence. It’s touching, honest, and painful. It’s all the things life is made of.

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“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi: Book Review

 

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UK book cover

 

I decided to finish reading the last couple of pages of this book at work during my extended lunch break. And, now I’m in tears. This book took me on an emotional roller coaster. Given the racial climate here in the states, “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi was almost too much for me to bear. At times, I had to put the book down to catch my breath. Homegoing is about two sisters with very different journeys on two different continents. One sister, Effia,  was married off to a British slave master while the other sister, Esi, was sold into slavery forcing her to brave the middle passage. We go on a journey from the Ghana coast to the Harlem concrete.

Each chapter was from the point of view from a family member from each half sister’s lineage. Yaa Gyasi really delves into how everyone played a part in the slave trade; the British, missionaries, and the Africans. I cringed as people were forced into slavery so easily due to any battle lost. Sometimes I wonder if things would have been different if the Africans knew of the horrors their people would face in America. Even though this book spoke of the degradation of slavery, each chapter was also peppered with beautiful sad love stories. I learned many things about the British and how they interacted with the African people. They often married the local women while on the coast to do their slave trading business because they were away from their homes for long periods of time. I also learned about how superstitious Africans were and how those ideas can shape someone’s life into a nightmare. Marriage was also an important theme in this book. I got a clear understanding of how marriage was approached back in the 18 century and how it changed throughout the generations.

My only gripe with this book, along with many others, is that it’s not long enough. I needed more details about the lives of each character. Basically, Yaa Gyasi left us wanting more. The love of Kojo and Anna was the most beautiful and tragic of them all. This couple deserves a book all their own. I was amazed at the strength of the characters. I often wondered if I were put in these situations if I would have survived. Would I still be able to love? I’m still not sure. This book is as beautiful as it’s UK book cover. I give it 5 stars out of 5.