Transcendent Kingdom

by

Yaa Gyasi

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Mother Character Analysis

Gifty’s mother was born in Ghana and raised there in a Pentecostal Church, which taught her the importance of religious faith. She married later in her life, by Ghanian standards, because God told her to wait until she met the Chin Chin Man. When they initially struggle to have a baby, she meets the challenge with prayer, and emerges victorious when their son, Nana, is born. Wanting a better life for Nana, she brings the family to the United States, where she works as a home health aide. She is surprised to find herself pregnant with Gifty at the age of 40. After the Chin Chin Man leaves his family and returns to Ghana, Gifty’s mother holds herself and the family together by faith. However, she falls into a major depression after Nana’s accidental death and she attempts suicide. In addition to her deep and abiding faith, Gifty’s mother is stubborn, persistent, and driven. She loves her children dearly, although she doesn’t know how to express it—or can’t, since she expends so much of her time and energy on survival and taking care of her clients. Unlike other immigrant parents, she doesn’t press her children into fulfilling certain stereotypes or expectations, although she certainly understands that they are both gifted, and she does expect them to live up to their potential. Gifty thinks of her mother as unsentimental and stingy—for example, she only participates in the diasporic Ghanian community if the meetings are close to home. Gifty frequently describes her mother as callous. Yet, she also understands that calluses are the hard parts of a person that develop to protect the body from trauma, and in retrospect, she’s able to see how her mother’s difficult circumstances shaped her.

Mother Quotes in Transcendent Kingdom

The Transcendent Kingdom quotes below are all either spoken by Mother or refer to Mother . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Science and Religion Theme Icon
).
Chapter 2  Quotes

I was determined not to let that happen again. I’d bought a Ghanian cookbook online to make up for the years I’d spent avoiding my mother’s kitchen, and I’d practiced a few of the dishes in the days leading up to my mother’s arrival, hoping to perfect them before I saw her. I’d bought a deep fryer, even though my grad student stipend left little room for extravagances like bofrot or plantains. Fried food was my mother’s favorite. Her mother had made fried food from a cart on the side of the road in Kumasi. My grandmother was a Fante woman from Abandze, a sea town, and she was notorious for despising Asantes, so much so that she refused to speak Twi, even after twenty years of living in the Asante capital. If you bought her food, you had to listen to her language.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

“Gifty,” she said as I set the bowl of koko down. “Do you still pray?”

It would have been kinder to lie, but I wasn’t kind anymore. Maybe I never had been. I vaguely remembered a childhood kindness, but maybe I was conflating innocence and kindness. I felt so little continuity between who I was as a young child and who I was now that it seemed pointless to even consider showing my mother something like mercy. Would I have been merciful when I was a child?

“No,” I answered.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 17-18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Like when I was five and Nana was eleven, and we found a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. Nana scooped it into his big palms, and the two of us ran home. The house was empty. The house was always empty, but we knew we needed to act fast, because if our mother came home to find the bird, she’d kill it outright or take it away and drop it in some small stretch of wilderness, leaving it to die. She’d tell us exactly what she’d done, too. She was never the kind of parent who lied to make her children feel better … Nana left the bird with me while he poured a bowl of milk for it. When I held it in my hands, I felt its fear, the unending shiver of its little round body, and I started crying.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother , Nana
Related Symbols: Baby Bird
Page Number: 30-31
Explanation and Analysis:

I think … people … assumed that I had gone into neuroscience out of a sense of duty to him, but the truth is I’d started this work not because I wanted to help people but because it seemed like the hardest thing you could do, and I wanted to do the hardest thing. I wanted to flay any mental weakness off my body … I never touched a drop of alcohol because I lived in fear that addiction was like a man in a dark trench coat, stalking me, waiting for me to get off the well-lit sidewalk and step into an alley. I had seen the alley. I had watched Nana walk into the alley and I had watched my mother go in after him, and I was so angry at them for not being strong enough to stay in the light. And so I did the hard thing.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother , Nana
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

Back then, I approached my piety the same way I approached my studies: fastidiously. I spent the summer after my eighth birthday reading my Bible cover to cover, a feat that even my mother admitted she had never done. I wanted, above all else, to be good. And I wanted the path to that goodness to be clear. I suspect that this is why I excelled at math and science, where the rules are laid out step by step, where if you did something exactly the way it was supposed to be done, the result would be exactly what it was expected to be.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother
Page Number: 54-55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

If I’ve thought of my mother as callous, and many times I have, then it is important to remind myself what a callus is: the hardened tissue that forms over a wound. And what a wound my father leaving was. On those phone calls with the Chin Chin Man, my mother was always so tender, drawing from a wellspring of patience that I never would have had if I were in her shoes. To think of the situation now still makes me furious. That this man, my father, went back to Ghana in such a cowardly way, leaving his two children and wife alone to navigate a difficult country, a punishing state. That he let us, let her, believe that he might return.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother , Father/The Chin Chin Man
Page Number: 72-73
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

We walked to the Greyhound station, our mother holding our hands the entire time. We took that bus home, and I don’t think Nana made a single noise. I don’t think I did either. I could feel that something had changed among the three of us and I was trying to learn what my role in this new configuration of my family might be. That day was the end of my naughtiness, the beginning of my good years. If our mother was angry or upset at us, me for being a terror, Nana for changing his mind, she didn’t let on. She wrapped us in her arms during that long ride home, her face inscrutable. When we got home, she put all of Nana’s soccer gear into a box, sealed the box, and dumped it into the nether regions of our garage, never to be seen again.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother , Nana , Father/The Chin Chin Man
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

I felt a strange sense of kinship with Hopkins every time I read about his personal life, his difficulty reconciling his religion with his desires and thoughts, his repressed sexuality. I enjoyed reading his letters and, inspired to some romantic ideal of the nineteenth century, tried writing letters of my own to my mother. Letters in which I hoped to tell her about my complicated feelings about God…all of which could have been a different petal on the flower of my belief: “I believe in God, I do not believe in God.” Neither of these sentiments felt true to what I actually felt.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 46 Quotes

I started writing my own fairy tale, wherein my mother, the beauty of Abandze, who grew sleepier and sleepier each year that she was away until she finally became unrousable, is carried on her golden bed by four gorgeous, strong men. She is carried all the way from my apartment in California to the coast of Ghana, where she is laid on the sand. And as the tide comes in, licking first the soles of her feet, then her ankles, to calf, then knee, she slowly starts to wake. By the time the water swallows the golden bed, stealing her out to sea, she has come alive again. The sea creatures take bits of her bed, and with it, they fashion a mermaid’s tail. They slip it onto her. They teach her how to swim with it. They live with her there forever.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother
Page Number: 241-242
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 50 Quotes

It took me many years to realize that it’s hard to live in this world. I don’t mean the mechanics of living, because for most of us, our hearts will beat, our lungs will take in oxygen, without us doing anything at all to tell them to. For most of us, mechanically, physically, it’s harder to die than it is to live. But still we try to die. We drive too fast down winding roads, we have sex with strangers without wearing protection, we drink, we use drugs. We try to squeeze a little more out of our lives. It’s natural to want to do that. But to be alive in the world, every day, as we are given more and more and more, as the nature of “what we can handle” changes and our methods for how we handle it change, too, that’s something of a miracle.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother , Anne, Raymond, Katherine, Han
Page Number: 261
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 53 Quotes

I started reading my way through every entry I’d ever written, reading my way through what was essentially my entire conscious lifetime. I was so embarrassed by the early entries that I read them all, cringing and squinting my eyes in an attempt to hide from my former self. By the time I got to the years of Nana’s addiction, I was undone. I couldn’t proceed. I decided then and there that I would build a new Gifty from scratch. She would be the person I took along with me to Cambridge—confident, poised, smart. She would be strong and unafraid. I opened up a blank page and wrote a new entry that began with these words: I will figure out a way to be myself, whatever that means, and I won’t talk about Nana or my mom all the time. It’s too depressing.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother , Nana
Page Number: 275-276
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 54 Quotes

When I was a child, I had this sense of confidence, this assuredness that the things I felt were real and important, that the world made sense according to divine logic. I loved God, my brother, and my mother, in that order. When I lost my brother, poof went the other two. God was gone in an instant, but my mother became a mirage, an image formed by refracted light. I moved toward her, but she never moved toward me. She was never there. The day I came home from school and couldn’t find her felt like the thirty-ninth day in the desert, the thirty-ninth day without water. I didn’t think I’d be able to survive another.

“Never again,” my mother said, but I didn’t believe her. Without meaning to or planning to, I’d spent seventeen years waiting for the fortieth day. Here it was.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:
Epilogue Quotes

I wish I were trying to figure out how to clone an alien, but my work pursuits are much more modest: neurons and proteins and mammals. I’m no longer interested in other worlds or spiritual planes. I’ve seen enough in a mouse to understand transcendence, holiness, redemption. In people, I’ve seen even more.

From the back pew, Christ’s face is the portrait of ecstasy. I stare at it, and it changes, goes from angry to pained to joyful. Some days, I sit there for hours, some days mere minutes, but I never bow my head. I never pray, never wait to hear God’s voice, I just look. I sit in blessed silence, and I remember. I try to make order, make sense, make meaning of the jumble of it all. Always, I light two candles before I go.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother , Han
Page Number: 288
Explanation and Analysis:
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Transcendent Kingdom PDF

Mother Character Timeline in Transcendent Kingdom

The timeline below shows where the character Mother appears in Transcendent Kingdom. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Addiction, Depression, and Control Theme Icon
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
When Gifty thinks of her mother, she pictures her mother lying in her bed during her two illnesses. During the first... (full context)
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...Maybe she thought there were no crazy people in America. Or she was contrasting Gifty’s mother, sick in a way that Gifty didn’t yet understand, with a truly crazy person. Her... (full context)
Addiction, Depression, and Control Theme Icon
...now, when Gifty hears “crazy,” she imagines both the man in the market and her mother. The man seemed peaceful, despite his wild gestures. But her mother, lying perfectly still in... (full context)
Chapter 2 
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At the beginning of her mother’s second illness, Gifty discovers that her experimental mice have been fighting. She separates them as... (full context)
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When Gifty gets her mother from the airport, her mother seems empty. She doesn’t even mock the “bleeding heart” that... (full context)
Self-Discovery, Identity, and Individuality Theme Icon
Gifty’s mother stares out of the car windows while Gifty remembers how beautiful she found California initially.... (full context)
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During her first illness, Gifty’s mother lost 70 pounds, so this time, Gifty buys a Ghanaian cookbook and a deep fryer... (full context)
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At her apartment, Gifty apologizes to her mother for the mess. Her mother could always find hidden dirt and would admonish Gifty, saying,... (full context)
Chapter 3
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On the day of her mother’s arrival, Han is in the lab before Gifty. They don’t talk much; if she says... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...God is, exactly: is he in space? In a second excerpt, Gifty complains that her mother (in the journal code-named “the Black Mamba”) sneaks up on her. Nana (codenamed “Buzz”) can... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Gifty recalls her family’s story. Her father, the Chin Chin Man, met her mother buying food from her grandmother’s cart. Her mother was 31 when they married, because God... (full context)
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Everyone adored Nana. The Chin Chin Man was happy in Kumasi, but her mother wanted to go to America. After some arguing, he relented, and she applied for a... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Gifty’s mother does nothing but sleep. She refuses to eat the komo, a favorite Ghanaian food, that... (full context)
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...but she doesn’t see any continuity between that child and herself. So, she tells her mother the harsh truth: she doesn’t. Gifty remembers how, as a child, she prayed, read her... (full context)
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In the present, her mother tells Gifty that she should pray. Then she takes two bites of the food. When... (full context)
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Gifty remembers a time when she asked her mother if she was beautiful. Her mother told Gifty to look at what God (and she)... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...tale or to reflect the war-torn and famine-stricken Africa she saw on TV. But her mother’s stories were matter of fact and ordinary instead of exotic and desperate. A few months... (full context)
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The Chin Chin Man’s arrival reminded Gifty’s mother of how much she owed God. And to help him out of his rut, she... (full context)
Chapter 8
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When Nana was 15, their mother was cleaning his room and discovered hidden pills. Years later, at his funeral, she told... (full context)
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...the Naked Egg experiment she did in middle school to learn about osmosis. Because her mother complained about having to buy corn syrup, Gifty asked the teacher for some. But this... (full context)
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In the present, Gifty and her mother aren’t talking. One night, when she goes to a party at Han’s house, she approaches... (full context)
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Still, Gifty remembers that not long after the Naked Egg experiment, her mother climbed into bed and refused to get up. Only 11 years old, Gifty made her... (full context)
Addiction, Depression, and Control Theme Icon
...went into neuroscience because it is such a hard subject. After Nana’s addiction and her mother’s depression, she wanted to prove that she had no mental weakness. She was “a self-righteous... (full context)
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Eventually, her mother’s depression had “healed through prayer,” but her mother was like a broken bone that hadn’t... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...Nana was in kindergarten, the Chin Chin Man would take care of him while Gifty’s mother worked. She became jealous of how close father and son were, although she herself never... (full context)
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...Nana couldn’t get it to drink, they tried to encourage it to fly. When their mother came home, she told them it would never fly now; since they’d touched it, its... (full context)
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...chastised her for downplaying her intelligence and work. This memory reminds Gifty of telling her mother she wanted to be a scientist. On a visit home from college, she made a... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Gifty’s mother used to tell Gifty that she wasn’t a very good baby. Nana had been a... (full context)
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In the present, Gifty’s mother is eating again, but not in front of Gifty, and only Amy’s Chunky Tomato Bisque.... (full context)
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This makes Gifty think of Edward Tronick’s “Still Face Experiment,” which asks mothers to first interact with their babies then to turn to stony-faced silence. In response, the... (full context)
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...words of which tell believers to pray without ceasing. This felt impossible to her. Her mother asked her what she thought prayer was, and Gifty was stumped. She approached faith like... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...him next time. In a second excerpt, she asks God to bless Nana and her mother and to let Nana get a dog. (full context)
Chapter 12
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...fighting about whether they should go, and one of Mr. Thomas’s children apologizing to her mother for how awful Mr. Thomas was. On the way home, Gifty’s mother, horrified by the... (full context)
Chapter 13
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When Nana started playing soccer, Gifty’s mother and father started fighting about food. Gifty wasn’t allowed to waste food or be a... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...to visit family and never came back. Gifty was four. At first, Nana and Gifty’s mother would talk on the phone with her father regularly.  (full context)
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Adult Gifty thinks about how callous her mother is, reminding herself that calluses form over wounds to protect them. She feels angry when... (full context)
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The addicted mice are the most interesting to Gifty. During her mother’s second depression, she was trying to find ways to “turn on” the neurons that should... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...more soccer, earning a spot on the travel team. But once, when it was Gifty’s mother’s turn to chaperone, she had to take Gifty along, too. Gifty made a nuisance of... (full context)
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...how much she’d sacrificed for the trip and how precarious the family’s situation was, Gifty’s mother sighed deeply. She told Nana that he didn’t have to play anymore. She walked with... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...want to talk with Katherine about their work, anyway; she wants to talk about her mother’s depression, which isn’t improving. (full context)
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Gifty doesn’t know what to do. In desperation, she had Pastor John pray for her mother over the phone. She can’t commit her. But Gifty can’t bring herself to open up... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...yet sure how she felt about her own faith, but she was protective of her mother’s. And after this outburst, she spoke up more in class. (full context)
Chapter 18
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At home, Gifty tries to draw her mother out of her depression with music and by cleaning, believing that the harsh but familiar... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...struggles to reconcile himself with his faith. His letters inspired Gifty to write to her mother, although she never sent the letters. The letters alternated between being declarations of her belief... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Gifty walks into her apartment, which smells like oil, pepper, rice, and plantains: her mother is making food. Her mother wants to know how Gifty eats without eggs, milk, or... (full context)
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Shortly after the Chin Chin Man left, her mother hosted a party for the Ghana Association of Alabama. Although Gifty and Nana were afraid... (full context)
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...about tetanus, and trying to outdo each other as they discuss Ghanaian folk remedies. Gifty’s mother took Nana to the kitchen, dipped a spoon in hot oil, and used it to... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...fell in love with basketball and spent hours a day practicing with the hoop Gifty’s mother bought and put up in the driveway. It was like a totem that he worshipped. (full context)
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Although they didn’t understand the game, Gifty and her mother were proud of Nana when they went to his games. But Gifty’s mother was annoyed... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Because she dreads going home to find nothing changed with her mother, Gifty starts spending more time in the lab. She prefers the familiar boredom of her... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...in the market and how no one seemed to fear him. And she remembers her mother’s experiences with the ghost that haunted her cousins’ apartment when she first came to America. (full context)
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The ghost only came out when Gifty’s mother was alone. Her cousin had complained about the high phone bills, so she had stopped... (full context)
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Remembering the ghost story gives Gifty an idea, and she starts to rub her mother’s back or squeeze her hand when she goes into her room. One day, her mother... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Before her mother arrived, Gifty went to the campus bookstore and bought a Bible to keep on her... (full context)
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...fascinated with the idea of the Logos and with words generally. She realized how her mother’s personality changed based on the language she used. In Fante with her friends, she was... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...church, so Gifty started going to “big church” instead of youth group to show her mother that one of her kids still cared about God.  (full context)
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...to the altar to be saved. After a few months, Gifty became aware that her mother was expecting her to go, but she wasn’t ready for the attention or to relinquish... (full context)
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...asked for Nana. But Nana usually got Gifty to say he was out and their mother never chastised either of them for the lie. (full context)
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The day of the Ridgewood game, their mother was at work, so Gifty sat alone in the bleachers working on her homework. As... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...Sunday night after Nana’s accident, before they realized that his addiction was taking hold, Gifty’s mother was working, and Gifty went alone to church. The sermon was short and dull, but... (full context)
Chapter 31
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...proceed in a straight line from birth to death, Nana’s drug-addled final years zig-zag. Gifty’s mother realized that he was hooked after two months, when he asked for a second refill... (full context)
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...he drenched all his shirts, threw up constantly, and “shit himself more than once.” Their mother, unfazed by bodily fluids after years as a health aide, would put him in the... (full context)
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Gifty’s mother was comfortable around death. She’d been there when one of her clients died, reading scriptures... (full context)
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While Nana was detoxing, their mother convinced him to go to church with her and Gifty. Gifty couldn’t stop staring at... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Gifty recalls intuiting that addiction was contagious and shameful, so she and her mother should not talk about Nana with anyone. She didn’t talk until college when she confessed... (full context)
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...of addiction-ruined brains and still wonder why Nana couldn’t stop for her or for their mother. (full context)
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...and people looked on without helping. At home, as Nana started to wake up, their mother hit him, screaming, “This has to stop.” But she couldn’t stop hitting him and he... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Gifty remembers her mother hitting Nana over and over, until Gifty stepped between them and took one of the... (full context)
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...with the Chin Chin Man, because he felt angry and betrayed. When Gifty and her mother picked him up at the end of the program, they stopped at a Chick-fil-A for... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...move through it. But the only person she could talk to about Nana was her mother, who couldn’t handle it. She wrote to God about it instead, and her journal entries... (full context)
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After Nana’s relapse, Gifty’s mother got increasingly unrestrained at church. This fed gossip as people slowly realized that Nana’s injury... (full context)
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...didn’t have the language to identify or explore her self-loathing. As a recent immigrant, her mother didn’t realize that white and Black churches in America were fundamentally different. It took Gifty... (full context)
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...had begun to feel that God was cruel. She only went to church so her mother wouldn’t be alone. (full context)
Chapter 37
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...steal things from the family and disappear regularly. Gifty’s parents fought on the phone, her mother blaming the Chin Chin Man for his absence. When he was sober, Nana broke things:... (full context)
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...said: “Buzz looked tired but good!” Afterwards, it seemed like a mockery. That day, her mother came home late from work. Gifty made dinner. They noticed his absence, but he was... (full context)
Chapter 38
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...asking Gifty how she got into neuroscience. Thrown off guard, Gifty blurts out that her mother is staying with her and that she’s depressed and resistant to help after a bad... (full context)
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After Nana’s death, Gifty’s mother threw herself into planning a Ghanaian-style funeral, complete with mourning clothes for her and Gifty.... (full context)
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Gifty never told her mother that she hated her mourning clothes from Ghana. At the funeral, her mother and the... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...had only told people that Nana was “sick,” she hung up on him. Afterwards, her mother stood in her bedroom door, chastising her for this disrespect. Gifty couldn’t relate to her... (full context)
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The Ambien made Gifty’s mother “loopy and mean.” She told Gifty, “You know I didn’t want another child after Nana,”... (full context)
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When her mother would wake up from her Ambien-induced sleep, she was confused. One day, she asked where... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Gifty considers her mother in bed at 68 and remembers her mother in bed at 52. There are differences... (full context)
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Ambien is in a class of drugs called hypnotics, and when her mother fell into her depression, at first Gifty thought that her mother had been hypnotized. One... (full context)
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...ready to need or accept help, really, but she enjoys the foods, and sometimes her mother will eat a little, too. Because the baked goods are beautifully made and presented, Gifty... (full context)
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The first week that her mother was in bed, Gifty rushed home after school each day. She would find the sandwiches... (full context)
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...shop, but Gifty tells him she’s going home soon to share the cake with her mother. She imagines a normal afternoon, sitting on the balcony sharing food. At home, Gifty brings... (full context)
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...knew her and truly saw her in a way that no one, not even her mother, could. Anne argued that creationism and evolution were “diametrically opposed,” and Gifty answered with the... (full context)
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...in extravagant miracles after Nana’s death, but she still hoped for smaller ones, like her mother getting up. She created and clung to a routine with her mother, so she felt... (full context)
Chapter 41
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With her mother in the hospital, Gifty went to live in Pastor John’s bright yellow house, three blocks... (full context)
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At home, Gifty watched her mother warily, refusing to find herself “falling for” her recovery. But she was still upset when... (full context)
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...to feed her. As they sat outside the airport, Joyce told Gifty stories about her mother, but all Gifty could see was the sloping curve of her mother’s back in bed. (full context)
Chapter 42
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The large Pentecostal church in which her mother grew up was overwhelming to Gifty, from the pastor shouting about spiritual warfare to the... (full context)
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...demanded to know if he knew she was in Ghana, and if he knew her mother attempted suicide. He talked about everything and anything else than her questions, and Gifty understood... (full context)
Chapter 43
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...entry from her childhood journal, Gifty tells God that Nana made her dinner while their mother was at work. When she told him that a classmate had mocked her cheap clothes,... (full context)
Chapter 44
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While Gifty was in Ghana, her mother healed in Alabama. Her anhedonia persisted, but her time in the psych ward seemed to... (full context)
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Gifty understood that her mother needed healing, but not what she needed healing from. She had only heard people use... (full context)
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While she was committed, Gifty’s mother was supposed to take medicine and talk to the doctor. She took the meds there... (full context)
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Eventually, Gifty’s mother surfaced from her depression. The last time Gifty went to church in Ghana, she felt... (full context)
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...Joyce wrapped Gifty into an enormous hug. Gifty realized that her aunt reflected what her mother could have been—happy, assured, proud—under other circumstances. Joyce told Gifty she was proud of her,... (full context)
Chapter 45
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Gifty was in fifth grade when Mrs. Palmer, one of her mother’s clients, died. She remembers looking at the wrinkled body in the casket, and how Mrs.... (full context)
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One morning, Gifty finds her mother getting dressed, ready to go see the lab. Gifty, unprepared for her mother’s sudden interest,... (full context)
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Watching her mother walk around the lab, Gifty thinks about Mahler’s “separation-individuation theory of child development,” which is... (full context)
Chapter 46
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When Gifty looks at her mother and sees the spark of life beneath her illness, she thinks, “Please don’t go.” She... (full context)
Chapter 48
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...piously prayed for the partygoers’ souls. And she wouldn’t tell on Nana, even though their mother always found some tiny sign that he’d missed during cleanup: a bottle cap, or a... (full context)
Chapter 49
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...a week of terrible nightmares that she couldn’t remember. She didn’t want to worry her mother, so she didn’t say anything. She just tried to keep herself awake watching TV. When... (full context)
Chapter 50
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Gifty’s mother is sitting up in bed. Gifty offers her breakfast, but all she wants is a... (full context)
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...by lying to him, saying that they would plan a trip to Ghana with her mother. (full context)
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Gifty’s mother had never returned to Ghana, and when Gifty had suggested it, her mother flatly stated:... (full context)
Chapter 51
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...and accept help eventually, but still clings to a pattern of trying to fix her mother independently. She successfully keeps herself from tears when Katherine asks how she is doing. She... (full context)
Chapter 52
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As Katherine leaves, Gifty checks on her mother, still unmoving in the bed. She goes to the lab, where she cleans up her... (full context)
Chapter 53
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...caved in and accepted a lunch invitation. While they eat sushi, Katherine asks after Gifty’s mother. When Gifty avoids the question, Katherine asks about her journaling. (full context)
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...new Gifty for her adult life, one that didn’t talk about depressing things, like her mother and Nana. (full context)
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Gifty tells Katherine that she and her mother are fine. Katherine replies that she’s not trying to psychoanalyze Gifty or pump her for... (full context)
Chapter 54
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After lunch, Gifty decides to give herself the afternoon off to take her mother to the beach. She’s not surprised when she enters a silent apartment, but when she... (full context)
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...but stops short when she realizes she has no idea where to look for her mother. She pulls out her phone and calls Katherine, who answers by asking if she’s okay.... (full context)
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...the complex and the neighborhood while Gifty catalogues the bridges and bodies of water her mother could have used to attempt suicide again. Just as she resolves to call the police,... (full context)
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...Gifty refuses her offer to stay. As Gifty’s fear dissipates, pity for her small, disheveled mother replaces anger. Gifty runs a bath, then gently undresses her, and begins to bathe her.... (full context)
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Once Gifty’s mother is asleep, Gifty sneaks out of the house, despite feeling like she needs to stay... (full context)
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...sneak into the community’s gated pool—which their parents had refused to let them join—while their mother worked the night shift. Neither were good swimmers, so they just waded in the shallow... (full context)
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...city until it gets dark, then parks her car. She tells God, someone, anyone: her mother will get better, and she will finish her paper. Her work will have meaning, and... (full context)
Epilogue
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Han and Gifty are a couple. He was with her when her mother eventually died of old age, at home in her bed. They can hear the bells... (full context)