Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi–Book Review

Gifty is a PhD student studying reward-seeking behavior in mice. She is interested in finding the neural circuits that govern addiction and depression. There’s a reason for this — her brother died of a heroin overdose after becoming addicted to oxycontin after a sports injury; her mother has suffered from depression off and on since that time.

Transcendent Kingdom: A novel by [Yaa Gyasi]

Although Gifty wants to find the solution to life’s problems through science, she cannot elude her childhood faith. This faith continues to sustain her immigrant mother who raised Gifty and her brother alone after her husband abandoned her. It became real to Gifty on the day she answered the altar call in her Pentecostal church:

“I had never felt anything like it before, and I have never felt anything like it since. Sometimes I tell myself that I made it all up, the feeling of my heart full to bursting, the desire to know God and be known by him, but that is not true either. It was as real as anything a person can feel ….”

She sees her work as holy, sacramental.

“Whenever I fed the mice…. I thought of Jesus in the upper room, washing his disciples’ feet. This moment of servitude, of being quite literally brought low, always reminded me that I needed these mice just as much as they needed me. More. How would I know about the brain without them?

The present day story line is interspersed with journal entries from her childhood, letters she addressed to God.

This is not a conventional Christian novel. There are no easy answers — instead there is struggle–. the struggle to balance faith and science, human suffering and transcendent joy, despair and hope.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Reflective and challenging. I liked it!

For more book reviews see:

Where the Light Fell by Philip Yancey–Book Review

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger–Book Review

The Book of Wanderings by Kimberly Meyer–Book Review

1 thought on “Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi–Book Review

  1. Pingback: We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza– Book Review | Lutheran Ladies Connection

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