Gifty is a brilliant neuroscientist who was raised evangelical, studying reward-seeking behavior in mice. As she cares for her mother who struggles with depression, she confronts issues of race, grief, addiction, mental illness, immigration, religion, and faith, all through the lens of her own experiences and her Ghanaian-American family in Alabama. Completely different from Gyasi’s debut Homegoing, but just as stunning and epic in its depth and the array of subjects it so eloquently tackles.
Reading each chapter in Ford’s sparkling debut, with its shifting points of view, is like sifting through a box of old, faded photos. In her story of four generations of Cherokee women, we see how home, both the place and the people within, forges bonds strong enough to withstand all manner of struggle and disappointment. There is little romanticism here, but the book at its core is a real love story.
Benson and Mike are in a complicated, possibly-failing relationship when Mike’s mother Mitsuko arrives for a visit from Tokyo, and a day later he leaves to say goodbye to his dying and estranged father in Osaka. After meeting for the first time, Benson and Mitsuko are stuck living together in a small apartment in Houston. Through the alternating perspectives of Benson and Mike, Washington lovingly explores the changing and sometimes challenging relationships between partners, parents and their adult children, and friends. The cities of Houston and Osaka are so present they are almost characters, and I loved the descriptions of food and cooking throughout. This book has stayed with me in the best way.