by Yaa Gyasi
Alternating between past and present, Gifty, the main character of Yaa Gyasi’s latest novel, reflects on her childhood and family life in Huntsville, Alabama as she works on a PhD in neuroscience at Stanford University. Now, you may not initially think that following a narrator’s descriptions of her study of mice - their reward-seeking behavior, the neuroscience of depression and addiction - would be riveting and relevant; but, I am here to tell you that this is precisely the case. Here, through this story and its characters, Gyasi takes the reader on a profound, spiritual, and moving consideration of faith in an age of science. There is so much written into Gifty’s story of suffering, salvation, loss and love; most especially Gifty’s desire for answers in a world that doesn’t easily offer them up.