Books·Posted on 14 Oct 20228 Times "Transcendent Kingdom" Made Me Cry – Here’s WhyYaa Gyasi's second novel is an emotional exploration of grief, family, and faith. Sponsored by Amazon Books. Created by BuzzFeed Editors.by Ewura-Ama QuarshieBuzzFeed ContributorFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink 🚨🚨🚨 Spoilers for Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi ahead 🚨🚨🚨 1. Gifty suffers multiple kinds of loss. Kristina Strasunske / Getty Images The death of Gifty's brother Nana from a heroin overdose is what inspires her scientific career and alters her relationship with her mother forever. Her father abandons the family, meaning she loses multiple people at an early age. Her last close family member – her mother – is too depressed and resentful to stay connected to her daughter. I also have a Ghanaian family and a brother named Nana, so parts of this story hit close to home. 2. As her brother takes a sudden turn from the golden child to an addict. Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images Nana was seen as the miracle child who came along after years of trying, and he was a skilled athlete before his injury. For Gifty, “the glory of his birth cast a long shadow”, meaning that she was always the second, less favoured child while he was the star. His unexpected decline into addiction hit the whole family hard and showed how suddenly someone can fall from grace. 3. You get a picture of the immigrant experience and struggle. Junior Asiama / Getty Images/500px When Gifty is four, her dad goes back to Ghana to visit his brother because he is overwhelmed by the racism and difficulty the family faces in America. He never returns, and leaves his family to keep struggling without him. It highlights how many barriers immigrants face and raises the question of whether people should suffer through it until things get better or just bow out. 4. Mental health issues are a big part of the story. Jasmin Merdan / Getty Images Gifty's motivation for studying addiction was seeing the suffering of her brother and mother. Her brother described being high as feeling "like all the thoughts and anxiety have been removed from one’s head", while her mother became severely depressed after Nana's death. 5. There are themes of familial pressure and a sense of obligation. Rawpixel / Getty Images/iStockphoto Gifty's mother doesn't hide her favouritism for Nana or her resentment for Gifty (due to having a difficult pregnancy with her at the age of 40). Despite this unfair blame, Gifty still tries to help her mother and invites her to stay after her latest depressive episode. The way Gifty spends her whole life trying to find a way to fix or solve her family's pain while getting no recognition from her mother is heart-wrenching. 6. Gifty grapples with her former religion. Rawpixel / Getty Images/iStockphoto Gifty questioned her religion after losing her brother and struggled with the contradictions within Christianity. At one point, she recalls the moment her brother lost faith in Christianity – he asked a Sunday school pastor if people in an African village who had never heard of Jesus would instantly go to hell, and the pastor said yes. As someone who went to a Catholic primary school, I could relate to questioning and losing faith. Ultimately, Gifty returns to church after her mother's death as a way to honour her mother and process things her own way. 7. Gifty tries to be clinical instead of acknowledging her emotions. Fatcamera / Getty Images At the start of the novel, Gifty says “I had a million selves, too many to gather”. In her determination to find a cure for addiction, she seems to bury her trauma and sacrifice her own well-being for the sake of completing her work and caring for her distant mother. She comes to realise that she can't separate her family from her work, since she went into the field because of them and that she doesn't have to compartmentalise everything. 8. Gifty's own relationships suffer because of her trauma. Salil Raj / Getty Images/EyeEm Gifty tries to keep her family history secret from a boyfriend and loses him because of it. When she finally tells her resident, Han, what happened to her brother, she finds some release and starts to work through her feelings. Ultimately, her mother's return to her life makes her face up to just how much her childhood and upbringing affected her.