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Ghana Must Go    by Taiye Selasi order for
Ghana Must Go
by Taiye Selasi
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2014 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

What can bring a fractured family together, particularly after a long separation? In this searing story it is the death of the father. That man, long gone but not at all forgotten, sired four children with his beloved wife but left them all abruptly after his professional life was cut off by a death in the family of influential people.

Ghana Must Go is the story of immigrants, people who leave. Kweku, the father, comes to the United States from a dirt-poor village in Ghana and is determined to make something of himself. He tries in every way to provide his family with the kind of life he never had, to give them the sense of never having to want. When the whole thing falls apart, the family has nothing but want and no father. Fola, the mother, left to pick up the pieces, makes mistakes. For instance she sends the twins to a vaguely known brother in Nigeria, to a hell that takes years for them to admit to so they can begin to recover from it.

This is a heart-rending account of six people who belong together but can't because too much pain exists in their relationships to one another. Kweku's death is the catalyst that not only brings the family together but enables Fola and the now-adult children to confront their past and the damage it did. It is a relief, but a painful one because all must break through their protective shields to move past guilt, selfishness and hate. In the end, each one has to grieve and change.

With sympathy and care, using memory, gesture and dance, Taiye Selasi has written a powerful account of individuals caught trying to live despite broken family bonds. It is no wonder that Ghana Must Go was cited as one of the 10 best books of 2013 by The Economist and The Wall Street Journal.

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