Hold up.....this is a debut novel?! Could have fooled me because Rootless by Krystle Zara Appiah is a beautifully written book with a story that will embed deeply in your bones. I connected with Efe so deeply when she went through her postpartum journey and I swear reading her internal monologue felt like a flashback in time to when I was caring for my first newborn. When a book brings a connection to your lived life, isn't that the purpose of reading? We all want to feel seen and this book did that. Not to mention this one completely wrecked me emotionally. I finished it, put it down, and immediately scanned #bookstagram to see who else read this book so I could discuss it.
Efe and Sam met as teens and each followed a different path that eventually led them back to each other. Fast forward and they are married with a little daughter. Sam comes home one day to find that Efe has left, money is missing from their bank account and her phone is shut off. Rootless is a story of motherhood, sacrifices and what it means to be truly happy with your life and the path taken to discover what you truly want.
Rootless begins with Sam finding Efe missing and then goes back in time 18 years to fill in Efe and Sam's backstory. Once you are caught up, the story progresses from there, with each chapter being a year, month, day or hour later.
I am still shocked that this is a debut novel because there is so much complexity to this story it feels as though a seasoned writer authored it. Efe is a complex character whose childhood plays a major role in her search for that feeling of home and happiness as an adult. As a young girl in Ghana, she was bullied mercilessly to the point where her mother moved her to London. Thus begins her feelings of being "rootless."
I appreciated so much that Appiah gave an honest depiction of motherhood. One that isn't pretty and not really talked about. I struggled with anxiety and depression as a new mother. I found myself mourning my pre-baby life and basically hating my new life. It felt like I had spent all this time giving this little being everything, that I lost myself. I remember having this strong desire to leave the house and go somewhere, anywhere, that wasn't there. I related on a deep level with Efe. Getting into her mindset when she leaves her family behind and goes to her sister in Ghana was not hard for me. I had moments where I was questioning my life choices and feeling like I wasn't meant to be a mother. For me, therapy and medication helped immensely. Efe takes a different route with solitude, independence and art. I don't want to give away any of the story, but all I can say is that I was in tears at the end and needed to unpack what I read asap. If you read this one, feel free to reach out so we can chat. I felt like I needed some therapy after to work through my emotions!
4.5 - 5 stars
"Efe nods. She says nothing, because she can think of plenty of people who've spent their whole lives doing things they don't want to do."
"I can love her and still want something more for my life. Love and regret aren't mutually exclusive."
"People - even the ones who love you - can be a weight around your neck. You just have to choose which weights you want to carry."