Book Review: Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

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🐭🐭🐭🐭🐭 (five stars as rated in Gifty’s little lab mice)

Gifty is a neuroscience candidate at Stanford School of Medicine. In many respects she is as far removed as she can be from her heavily evangelical upbringing in rural Alabama. But as she researches the behaviors of mice Gifty revisits her own childhood, the too short life of her older brother, and the often strained relationship she has with her now bed-ridden mother. As she dissects her own personal history, Gifty seeks compatibility between the faith that raised her and the science that drives her, as well as the transcendent roots of her Ghanaian-American family.

“Surely, there’s strength in being dressed for a storm, even when there’s no storm in sight?”

Yaa Gyasi, Transcendent Kingdom

At the outset, I was really worried that I would not enjoy this book. I am not typically moved by personal explorations of faith and it wasn’t until around the halfway mark that this book really took off for me. Thank goodness for the brilliance of Bahni Turpin’s narration! Her voice was, as always, reliably persuasive and admittedly kept me coming back. The pay-off was worth every ounce of that slow burn and I would highly recommend this book to just about anyone.

This story takes place in two timelines; past and present, with very little distinction made as we are thrust between the two. The skill with which Gyasi pulls this off is absolutely incredible. We are brought from one to the other in a way that is so indisputably intentional, yet feels almost effortless. Let me tell you though, my emotions took a dang beating. I feel exhausted by what I just listened to and, honestly, I’m saddest that with this being a new release, I’ll have to wait another year at least before she can put me through it again. If there was any doubt before, this book has established Yaa Gyasi as one of my absolute favorites. I genuinely can’t believe how much I enjoyed this sensational book.

Buy Transcendent Kingdom:
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👁️ Multiple POV
🇩🇴 Dominican Rep
🌳 Family Focused
💔 Grief and Love

✨ Rep in this book: Black cast of characters, queer MC, own voices

✨ Content warnings for this book: absent parent, memory loss, death of an animal, animal testing, bullying, depression, hospitalization, death of a sibling, mental illness, pills, addiction, racism

[Image Description: Sarah’s arm is seen reaching into the frame from the left and gripping the book, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi in the middle of the shot. The cover of the book is cut at the middle in a slightly diagonal line, so that the top half of the book is pink and the bottom is black, with gold lettering. There is a graphic of a young Black girl in a white tank top who is praying in the very center of the book. Her hair is in a bun on top of her head. Around the book there are swipes of golden paint accentuating the frame of the photo. Only Sarah’s arm can be seen and she is wearing a white sweater.]

About the Author: Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in Brooklyn. (Copied from the author’s Penguin Random House press kit).

About the Narrator: Bahni Turpin

Bahni Turpin is a Los Angeles–based audiobook narrator and actress with many television and film credits. Bahni is a two-time Odyssey Award winner and a two-time recipient of the Audie Award for Best Solo Female Narration. She was named an Audible Narrator of the Year in 2016, and The American Library Association’s Voice of Choice for 2017, and in 2018 she was inducted into the Audible Hall of Fame. Bahni is also an ensemble member of Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles. (Copied from the narrator’s Penguin Random House press kit).

Audio-book Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Other audiobooks featuring Bahni Turpin: Instructions for Dancing, The Hate U Give, The Lady Upstairs, They Both Die at The End

Thanks for reading, friends! What are you currently enjoying?



Published by Sarah

My name is Sarah and I can't imagine my life without books. Actually, I can and it's terrible. I'm also into climbing, video games and bothering the nearest cat.

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