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This poetic, genre-bending work—blending memoir with cultural history—from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu grapples with the fault lines of identity, the meaning of home, black womanhood, and the ripple effects, both personal and generational, of emotional trauma. Nadia Owusu grew up all over the world—from Rome and London to Dar-es-Salaam and Kampala. When her mother aba This poetic, genre-bending work—blending memoir with cultural history—from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu grapples with the fault lines of identity, the meaning of home, black womanhood, and the ripple effects, both personal and generational, of emotional trauma. Nadia Owusu grew up all over the world—from Rome and London to Dar-es-Salaam and Kampala. When her mother abandoned her when she was two years old, the rejection caused Nadia to be confused about her identity. Even after her father died when she was thirteen and she was raised by her stepmother, she was unable to come to terms with who she was since she still felt motherless and alone. When Nadia went to university in America when she was eighteen she still felt as if she had so many competing personas that she couldn’t keep track of them all without cracking under the pressure of trying to hold herself together. A powerful coming-of-age story that explores timely and universal themes of identity, Aftershocks follows Nadia’s life as she hauls herself out of the wreckage and begins to understand that the only ground firm enough to count on is the one she writes into existence.


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This poetic, genre-bending work—blending memoir with cultural history—from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu grapples with the fault lines of identity, the meaning of home, black womanhood, and the ripple effects, both personal and generational, of emotional trauma. Nadia Owusu grew up all over the world—from Rome and London to Dar-es-Salaam and Kampala. When her mother aba This poetic, genre-bending work—blending memoir with cultural history—from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu grapples with the fault lines of identity, the meaning of home, black womanhood, and the ripple effects, both personal and generational, of emotional trauma. Nadia Owusu grew up all over the world—from Rome and London to Dar-es-Salaam and Kampala. When her mother abandoned her when she was two years old, the rejection caused Nadia to be confused about her identity. Even after her father died when she was thirteen and she was raised by her stepmother, she was unable to come to terms with who she was since she still felt motherless and alone. When Nadia went to university in America when she was eighteen she still felt as if she had so many competing personas that she couldn’t keep track of them all without cracking under the pressure of trying to hold herself together. A powerful coming-of-age story that explores timely and universal themes of identity, Aftershocks follows Nadia’s life as she hauls herself out of the wreckage and begins to understand that the only ground firm enough to count on is the one she writes into existence.

30 review for Aftershocks

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    "The earthquake came and destroyed their homes, their city. On the same day, my mother came, and her coming toppled me. My mother became the earthquake. I was only seven." What a beautifully written and profoundly moving memoir. I am breathless! Nadia Owusu was a young child when her mother left her and her younger sister with their father. Due to her father's work, they moved often, and she lived in several different countries and on three continents by the time she was eighteen.  She begins by de "The earthquake came and destroyed their homes, their city. On the same day, my mother came, and her coming toppled me. My mother became the earthquake. I was only seven." What a beautifully written and profoundly moving memoir. I am breathless! Nadia Owusu was a young child when her mother left her and her younger sister with their father. Due to her father's work, they moved often, and she lived in several different countries and on three continents by the time she was eighteen.  She begins by describing a visit her mother made to her in Rome at the age of seven.... or rather, her mother leaving after this short visit. She likens the experience, and her mother, to an earthquake. And everything that follows is the result of that earthquake, the aftershocks reverberating throughout her life. "I asked my father what an aftershock was. He said they are tremors in the earth that follow an earthquake. They are the earth’s delayed reaction to stress." With prose that is shattering in its intensity, Nadia describes her pain growing up and her journey as a young woman to find herself. She narrates her childhood and young adulthood while weaving in the cultures and histories of the countries and people of her ancestors - her father was Ghanaian and her mother Armenian American, the daughter of immigrants who fled the Turkish massacre of Armenian people.  It is difficult for me to describe how this book affected me. It is rare that a memoir truly moves me.... but like an earthquake, this book did.  Ms Owusu writes with piercing clarity and  Aftershocks is a powerful memoir. It is both poetic and profound. If you enjoy memoirs, you don't want to miss this one. 

  2. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    Nadia Owusu could not have had a more complicated early life. Her father was from Ghana. Her mother was Armenian American. Her mother left when she was three years old. She lived with an aunt in England until her father and stepmother took her and her sister to live in Italy. Her father died when she was 14 and she lived in different parts of Africa with her stepmother, sister and half brother until she was 18, when she moved to the US. There are no spoilers in what I have just described. This i Nadia Owusu could not have had a more complicated early life. Her father was from Ghana. Her mother was Armenian American. Her mother left when she was three years old. She lived with an aunt in England until her father and stepmother took her and her sister to live in Italy. Her father died when she was 14 and she lived in different parts of Africa with her stepmother, sister and half brother until she was 18, when she moved to the US. There are no spoilers in what I have just described. This is all clear from the outset. But Owusu’s beautiful memoir is a long meditation on the repercussions of this life without stability or a clear sense of identity. She moves back and forth in time and place, always coming back to a few days in her late 20s when her life seemed to have fallen apart. Owusu’s writing is rich and intense. Her thoughts about identity are interesting and nuanced. At times, it was a bit claustrophobic to be so immersed in Owusu’s head. But overall, Aftershocks was well worth reading for Owusu’s life experience and broader insights. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sheena

    Nadia Owusu grew up in different countries, struggling with identity, race, and trying to find a place for herself. Her memoir discuses the results of growing up without stability and being rejected by your own mother. Her mother abandons her and she loses her father at an early age. Her and her sister stay with their step-mother who is cruel and unable to give them the care they need. The book moves between time from when she was a little girl and as a young woman. Owusu deals with anxiety, dep Nadia Owusu grew up in different countries, struggling with identity, race, and trying to find a place for herself. Her memoir discuses the results of growing up without stability and being rejected by your own mother. Her mother abandons her and she loses her father at an early age. Her and her sister stay with their step-mother who is cruel and unable to give them the care they need. The book moves between time from when she was a little girl and as a young woman. Owusu deals with anxiety, depression, and guilt as an adult. She is made to feel lesser because of her race but also because she lost both of her parents in different ways. I liked the earthquake metaphors throughout the novel and thought it ties her story together well. I thought the writing was lovely and had a great flow to it. Thank you to Netgalley and to Simon & Schuster for an advanced copy of this book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    / / / Read more reviews on my blog / / / “To heal, I would need to look inward as well as outward. I would need to examine my memories. I would need to interrogate the stories I told myself—about myself, about my family, about the world.” Unflinching and elegant Aftershocks is an impressive, engrossing, and deeply moving memoir by a promising author. In her memoir, Nadia Owusu explores the way in which her upbringing shaped her sense of self. Throughout the course of her non-linear narrative, wh / / / Read more reviews on my blog / / / “To heal, I would need to look inward as well as outward. I would need to examine my memories. I would need to interrogate the stories I told myself—about myself, about my family, about the world.” Unflinching and elegant Aftershocks is an impressive, engrossing, and deeply moving memoir by a promising author. In her memoir, Nadia Owusu explores the way in which her upbringing shaped her sense of self. Throughout the course of her non-linear narrative, which jumps from Ghana, America, England, Italy, Ethiopia, and Uganda, from her childhood to her adulthood, identity, loss, fear, madness, longing, belonging, abandonment, and Blackness are underlining motifs and, as the title suggests, Owusu uses earthquakes related terminology—foreshocks, faults, aftershocks, mainshocks—as a lens through to which she reassesses her past experiences and her shifting perception of herself. “I ached for lasting connection, for a place where rejection was not inevitable. No matter how many times I stood on bare floors, surrounded by blank walls, telling myself I belonged everywhere and to everywhere, emptied houses never stopped feeling like ruin.” Rather than providing a straightforward linear retelling of her life, Owusu’s narrative jumps from memory to memory, in a way that felt natural and far from confusing. She dwells on different periods of her childhood and her teen years, in particular, on her relationship to her father (who she idolized), her mother who after marrying for all intent and purposes disappeared from Owusu and her younger sister’s lives, and her rocky relationship with her father’s ‘new’ wife. Owusu is both observant and incisive when it comes to examining herself, her family, and the countries she lived in. As the daughter of a Ghanian father and an Armenian mother raised across numerous and vastly different countries she is time and again forced to question who she is, how others perceive, how she fits within a certain society. Those instances recounting her time in Rome were particularly hard to read as I was born and grew up there and could easily imagine the kind of way in which Italians would have exoticized her Blackness (my best friend growing up although white had dark skin and was often taunted and called ‘dirty’ because of it). I also found her relationship with her father, who died of cancer, to be incredibly moving. I truly respect how self-critical Owusu is when revisiting her childhood as she does not paint herself as the hero nor the villain of her own story. She has hurt and been hurt, she grieved and loved, she longed for a mother figure yet she also pushed her stepmother away. Owusu is also cognisant of her own privilege, for example, when she observes the poverty and violence present in Ethiopia. While the people she writes of are rendered in vivid detail, some of what she recounts is obscured, by pain or distance, so that each moment she writes appears in a unique light. Because her father worked for UN Owusu grew up in many different countries. When revisiting her memories of her many 'homes' she not only writes about her personal/family history but often delves into a country's own history. For example, when remembering her time in Ghana, she dedicates many passages to exploring Ghana, its people, its rich history, and its myths. It was truly illuminating. I also found her discussions on language and code-switching to be deeply captivating. Owusu's nuanced approached to race, racism, and Blackness makes for some thought-provoking reading material. Towards the end Owusu's earthquake metaphor does seem a bit strained, one could even say affected, but I could see why she is so obsessed by it. It allows her to understand the topography of her own mind and body, and the marks left by the trauma, grief, and abandonment she experienced growing up. Aftersohocks is a striking memoir that moved me tears. Owusu’s prose, by turns graceful and direct, combined with her distinctive storytelling (her non-linear structure, her shifts in pacing and style, her earthquake metaphor, her ability to depict time, place, and person) make Aftersohocks into a powerful and not soon to be forgotten memoir.

  5. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    Nadia Owusu raised the memoir bar, visceral, beautifully written, and deeply moving, I did not want this book to end! I finished reading this book and I felt like the earth shifted from under me. Nadia Owusu took us in her world and I did not want to leave. In the memoir Aftershocks which is told in a non- linear way we are taken to Rome, New York, Ghana, Tanzania, London and New York with the author piecing together her life. From being abandoned twice by her Armenian mother, to the death o Nadia Owusu raised the memoir bar, visceral, beautifully written, and deeply moving, I did not want this book to end! I finished reading this book and I felt like the earth shifted from under me. Nadia Owusu took us in her world and I did not want to leave. In the memoir Aftershocks which is told in a non- linear way we are taken to Rome, New York, Ghana, Tanzania, London and New York with the author piecing together her life. From being abandoned twice by her Armenian mother, to the death of her father, from battling with mental health issues, to racism, abandonment and trying to fit in. Owusu packs so much in less than 300 pages and it is done in the most beautiful way, I do not have the words to express. Any river loses its identity when entering the sea…” . Owusu comes from a diverse background she is many things, but is not one thing and we get this from she explores her identity in the memoir. Just 28 years old and I feel like she’s lived a rich, yet exhausting life. She’s seen and been through so much, yet she walks us through it with grace and beauty. I love the historical looks at Armenia, Ghana and Tanzania, from that I learned so much. Owusu walks us through how those moments impacted her in someone way or the members of her family. How the author had the running use of aftershocks and earthquake through the books worked amazingly well for me. This memoir is one that I would call required reading. Please add this to your list.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    First off, I won this as a goodreads giveaway. Thank you Simon & Schuster. This was a memoir of a world traveller. When Nadia Owusu wrote of her childhood spent in different countries in Africa I felt like I was there. Especially when she wrote about the dry season in Ghana. The memoir also taught me new things about Ghana’s political structure. Possible Spoiler.... The main theme of this book is identity and where does one belong. Ms. Owusu describes her long journey as to what it meant to be her First off, I won this as a goodreads giveaway. Thank you Simon & Schuster. This was a memoir of a world traveller. When Nadia Owusu wrote of her childhood spent in different countries in Africa I felt like I was there. Especially when she wrote about the dry season in Ghana. The memoir also taught me new things about Ghana’s political structure. Possible Spoiler.... The main theme of this book is identity and where does one belong. Ms. Owusu describes her long journey as to what it meant to be her and find “home”. When this book comes out, look for it and enjoy her writing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    I have just finished reading Aftershocks - A Memoir by Nadia Owusu This was an outstanding memoir, and first book by the author. It is an honest and heartfelt book about her life that spans many countries and cultures. She had a very special bond with her father and had a mother who abandoned her when she was only two years old. She was brought up primary by a stepmom, and aunt and her father who worked for the UN so travelled a great deal, but he taught her much about life. This is an author who ha I have just finished reading Aftershocks - A Memoir by Nadia Owusu This was an outstanding memoir, and first book by the author. It is an honest and heartfelt book about her life that spans many countries and cultures. She had a very special bond with her father and had a mother who abandoned her when she was only two years old. She was brought up primary by a stepmom, and aunt and her father who worked for the UN so travelled a great deal, but he taught her much about life. This is an author who has an amazing command of words and story telling I would highly recommend this book and will watch for more books from her in the future! Thank you to NetGalley, Author Nadia Owusu, and Simon & Schuster Canada for my advanced copy to read and review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dana DesJardins

    I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This was an absolutely riveting journey across continents and back and forth through time. Owusu has lived in Rome, Addis Ababa, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, Kumasi, London, and New York. With astonishing self awareness, Owusu describes both her privilege and its cost -- on herself, her family, and the world at large. “Let me show you my home,” she writes. “It is a border. It is the outer edge of both sides. They drew the lines right through me.” Thi I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This was an absolutely riveting journey across continents and back and forth through time. Owusu has lived in Rome, Addis Ababa, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, Kumasi, London, and New York. With astonishing self awareness, Owusu describes both her privilege and its cost -- on herself, her family, and the world at large. “Let me show you my home,” she writes. “It is a border. It is the outer edge of both sides. They drew the lines right through me.” This is really two books, a fascinating reflection of an international childhood and the brutal “aftershocks” of the cumulative emotional and geographic upheavals that result. Her narrative intersperses memories of youth with those of a harrowing psychic break, darkly foreshadowing cause and effect. She demurs, “I can only talk about the wars in Ethiopia and Uganda from a remove, from a protected place.” Yet she is not protected enough to prevent the world from marking her. At one point, a violent local militia invades her house looking for children to kidnap as soldiers, and a boy she’s played with unthinkingly hides in plain sight on their couch; her family’s wealth and status shield him from being revealed as a potential recruit. But danger does not lurk only in Uganda, Ghana, and Ethiopia. Threats at a playground in Rome and even her boarding school also imperil her physical and emotional well-being. The combination of a heart-breakingly fractured family and frequent moves between cultures and languages constitute the book’s earthquakes, in response to which Owusu develops what she calls her “seismometer,” which emotionally calibrates “foreshock, mainshock, and aftershock.” As a result of these quakes and faultlines, she explains, “The story is reshuffled. In the sequence, we only know what goes where in retrospect.” While I understand the reason for the narrative fragmenting, I found this toggling between locations and time periods disorienting and had to reread chapter titles to remember where and when the action was set. This jumbled organization, combined with a tendency to provide exhaustive background, were my only reservations about this protean memoir. Owusu has lived so many places, speaking in different languages and accents, that some context is obviously necessary. Owusu explains the Black Lives Matter movement, colorism in the African American community, post-colonial theory, anti-LGBTQ laws in Uganda, the Armenian genocide, and Bush’s PEPFAR legislation, among other ideas. Obviously she has been so misunderstood in so many ways that perhaps she errs in providing too much background rather than presuming on her readers’ knowledge. Having lived through two literal tremors and countless figurative quakes, Owusu writes, “An earthquake is trauma and vulnerability: the earth’s, mine, yours. An earthquake is the ground breaking and the heart breaking.” Yet she bravely owns her history and writes, “A story is a flashlight and a weapon.” Reading this memoir is an insightful and inspiriting tour through the seismic moments of the last several decades.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Man, Nadia Owusu has lived a lot of life and has many stories to tell, about her upbringing, living all over the world, her mother's abandonment, father's death, finding an identity, and her experience with mental illness. Set against the backdrop of certain global histories and systemic racial injustices and within the metaphor of earthquakes (hence the title and subcategories named Faults, Foreshocks, Topography, Mainshocks, etc.), this is an impressive debut that feels messy for a reason and Man, Nadia Owusu has lived a lot of life and has many stories to tell, about her upbringing, living all over the world, her mother's abandonment, father's death, finding an identity, and her experience with mental illness. Set against the backdrop of certain global histories and systemic racial injustices and within the metaphor of earthquakes (hence the title and subcategories named Faults, Foreshocks, Topography, Mainshocks, etc.), this is an impressive debut that feels messy for a reason and highlights what it's like to not just be different but to be an undefined different by society's standards.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm

    I was not at all familiar with the author but the title and premise intrigued me. Owusu grew up all over the world and has to cope with being a young mixed woman who does not quite fit in anywhere. She was abandoned by her mother as a young child, was abused by her stepmother, loses her father later in life and has to navigate the world as a mixed woman. Initially the book was incredibly compelling. Reading Owusu as a child trying to navigate meeting her mom after such a long time apart was both I was not at all familiar with the author but the title and premise intrigued me. Owusu grew up all over the world and has to cope with being a young mixed woman who does not quite fit in anywhere. She was abandoned by her mother as a young child, was abused by her stepmother, loses her father later in life and has to navigate the world as a mixed woman. Initially the book was incredibly compelling. Reading Owusu as a child trying to navigate meeting her mom after such a long time apart was both sad and compelling. I had to put the book down after the first chapter or so, but I was super eager to return to it and learn more about that little girl who was rejected by her biological mother. Unfortunately, I can't say I understand the hype and positive reviews. The book is a mess, weaving from memoir to history to reflections on her relationships (familial, romantic, etc.), to what occasionally feels like the author writing in a journal instead. As much as the writing was really interesting at times, at others it was incredibly boring. This is one of those books that I felt might have felt better if it had "sit" for awhile, and maybe written and published 5 years (or in the future) from now, or perhaps had a much stronger editor in deciding what the book was trying to be. And maybe that was the author's point, to occasionally dip in and out like a stream of consciousness instead. Unfortunately, to me it occasionally felt like this was a person trying hard to work out things in a book that really might have benefited from therapy instead. Again, I'd definitely read more by the author, but I am ultimately disappointed that the book really wasn't quite what marketing presented it as. Worth noting the author discusses topics like sexual abuse, racism, bullying, parental abandonment, divorce, child abuse, etc. Borrowed from the library and that was best for me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mina

    Interesting read. Nadia's story had the potential to be gripping and powerful but I just couldn't relate to. Must be a me kind of problem. I shall definitely come back to this. Interesting read. Nadia's story had the potential to be gripping and powerful but I just couldn't relate to. Must be a me kind of problem. I shall definitely come back to this.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    A memoir that will move you, beautifully written and heart breaking but will leave an impactful message into the life of a woman who is a citizen of the world.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Najah Webb

    The description is what draws you in and the journey is what sustains you when reading Aftershocks. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to the reader who likes human, harrowing, yet ever so surrealist literature. The memoir follows the life of Nadia Owusu in the aftershocks following her mother's sudden abandonment. Its strength is its unflinching criticism of the challenges of being woman, multicultural, and smart. It is a crisp narrative you won't forget. The description is what draws you in and the journey is what sustains you when reading Aftershocks. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to the reader who likes human, harrowing, yet ever so surrealist literature. The memoir follows the life of Nadia Owusu in the aftershocks following her mother's sudden abandonment. Its strength is its unflinching criticism of the challenges of being woman, multicultural, and smart. It is a crisp narrative you won't forget.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wavelength

    The narrative structure (or lack of) prevented me from emotionally connecting to the story and the author. The earthquake metaphor felt imposed as if an editor suggested it to provide some cohesion to the otherwise disjointed story. I did like this passage, "Everything on this earth is connected!" my father exclaimed. "A better religion to me, is the practice of noticing that connection, of deepening our understanding of it." In Christianity, there was no need for microscopes or space shuttles or The narrative structure (or lack of) prevented me from emotionally connecting to the story and the author. The earthquake metaphor felt imposed as if an editor suggested it to provide some cohesion to the otherwise disjointed story. I did like this passage, "Everything on this earth is connected!" my father exclaimed. "A better religion to me, is the practice of noticing that connection, of deepening our understanding of it." In Christianity, there was no need for microscopes or space shuttles or radiocarbon dating. Questions were frowned upon. Everything was already decided. "and that is absolutely maddening,"my father said. "If that's the case, why live?"

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    What an impressive debut for Nadia Owusu! This intricate, heartbreaking, and honest memoir covers an astonishing amount of ground, from racism, colorism, and privilege to international politics, personal relationships, and religion. I look forward to reading her future work, and I will be recommending this book to others once it's released! What an impressive debut for Nadia Owusu! This intricate, heartbreaking, and honest memoir covers an astonishing amount of ground, from racism, colorism, and privilege to international politics, personal relationships, and religion. I look forward to reading her future work, and I will be recommending this book to others once it's released!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elena L.

    AFTERSHOCKS is a deeply intimate memoir of Nadia Owusu, a biracial woman born in Tanzania who had an unsettled childhood; this novel is about the search for belonging and identity. Navigating multiple countries due to her father's job, Nadia constantly wrestled with rootlessness. She deals with abandonment, racism, grief and lack of sense of belonging - experiences that made her who she was and resulted in her latter sentiments of resentment and insecurity. Even amongst the despair of poverty and AFTERSHOCKS is a deeply intimate memoir of Nadia Owusu, a biracial woman born in Tanzania who had an unsettled childhood; this novel is about the search for belonging and identity. Navigating multiple countries due to her father's job, Nadia constantly wrestled with rootlessness. She deals with abandonment, racism, grief and lack of sense of belonging - experiences that made her who she was and resulted in her latter sentiments of resentment and insecurity. Even amongst the despair of poverty and civil war, the author acknowledges her privilege regarding being an American citizen and having better financial condition. Each event is like an earthquake, with different scale of impact in her life and composing a remarkable emotional memory. Her voice, highlighted by an exquisite prose, has such a rawness that made my heart heavy and nurtured my empathy. Through non-linear narrative, the nuanced exploration of family, identity, mental health and (white) privilege made me reflect for a while. However, not everything is around trauma - learning about Ghanaian/Armenian/Tanzanian culture and history was eye-opening and gave me an immersive experience. Ultimately, we follow her process of healing. In this memoir... I picture intolerable brokenness and vulnerability I picture different meanings of being Black in distinct places I picture that colorism happens everywhere I picture that despite countless disasters and devastating moments, her soul fights for survival [ I received a complimentary copy from the publisher - Simon & Schuster - in exchange for an honest review ]

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jaimie

    I won this as a Goodreads ARC giveaway - thank you Simon & Schuster! This was a stunning, lyrical memoir written by Nadia Owusu - a woman struggling to find her home, to find what roots her to this earth. She struggles to find an identity in a life where she feels split between several worlds, backgrounds, lives, families. This is a commentary on mental illness, what it means to be a Black woman in this world, what it means to feel Ike you have no real identity. It is about a woman struggling to I won this as a Goodreads ARC giveaway - thank you Simon & Schuster! This was a stunning, lyrical memoir written by Nadia Owusu - a woman struggling to find her home, to find what roots her to this earth. She struggles to find an identity in a life where she feels split between several worlds, backgrounds, lives, families. This is a commentary on mental illness, what it means to be a Black woman in this world, what it means to feel Ike you have no real identity. It is about a woman struggling to understand herself and her roots and where she came from so that she can move into her future. It is told in a nonlinear fashion, telling about childhood, about abandonment, about loss and the many forms it can take. It is a commentary on colonialism and the long standing effects it has had on the world and the way the world treats Black people. It is partly a history lesson and partly an insight into the human mind struggling with loss of self and with mental health. The story travels the world with Nadia and her life. It spans her childhood with her father and tells how she came to see him as larger than life, as perfect, and how that affects her when he is no longer in her life. It is beautiful. It is heartrendingly sad. It is hopeful. It is emotional and gorgeously written. I honestly cannot recommend this enough. Please read it. It is unlike anything I’ve read and it is well worth your time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    3.5 rounded down A strong debut memoir on identity, Owusu's memoir tells of her struggles to find her place within the world and the impact this struggle has had on her emotionally. Owusu's background and childhood is diverse: born to a Ghanaian father and Armenian American mother, her mother left the family when she was very young and her father passed away when she was in her early teens. (She is also later raised by a Tanzanian stepmother.) Her father worked for the UN which meant postings all 3.5 rounded down A strong debut memoir on identity, Owusu's memoir tells of her struggles to find her place within the world and the impact this struggle has had on her emotionally. Owusu's background and childhood is diverse: born to a Ghanaian father and Armenian American mother, her mother left the family when she was very young and her father passed away when she was in her early teens. (She is also later raised by a Tanzanian stepmother.) Her father worked for the UN which meant postings all across the world, however her formative years were spent in Italy, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and the U.S. An enjoyable read, rating rounded down as I found some later sections a bit drawn out and/or repetitive. Thank you Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book has a solid place on my list of nonfiction I think everyone should read. The author does an amazing job keeping your attention with her beautiful writing. I cried SOOO MUCH reading this. I love. Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing me with an eBook copy to review

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Owusu's memoir follows her on her cosmopolitan upbringing around the world as she searches for her identity and a definition for the word "home". Framed with the extended metaphor of earthquakes, Owusu details the traumatic moments of her life and how they played a role in shaping who she became as an adult. The best part of this book is the beautiful prose Owusu commands. I typically don't write down quotes in my reading notebook (they take so much time!), but I have a couple of pages worth fro Owusu's memoir follows her on her cosmopolitan upbringing around the world as she searches for her identity and a definition for the word "home". Framed with the extended metaphor of earthquakes, Owusu details the traumatic moments of her life and how they played a role in shaping who she became as an adult. The best part of this book is the beautiful prose Owusu commands. I typically don't write down quotes in my reading notebook (they take so much time!), but I have a couple of pages worth from this one. This is one of those books that you should read slowly, not all at once, and savor what she's written from page to page. In these descriptions, Owusu is able to create well-rounded, lifelike characters out of her family members. Some of these, like her step-mom and father, were more developed than some fictional characters! It made the memoir feel more personal and definitely made for a more interesting read. I appreciated the scope of social issues Owusu was able to cover with this book. I think there are so many chapters or excerpts that I could use in my thematic units in my American Literature course that would add a new perspective to what it means to be "American" and what it means to be a person of color in the world. She tackles colonialism, racial identity, generational trauma, code switching, police violence against people of color, and so much more. For this reader, there wasn't anything new that I learned, but I can see this book opening a lot of eyes about issues in the world. While I did love the writing and found the overall experience enjoyable, it did read a bit slow. Perhaps that was where I was with my own reading preferences at the time, or perhaps it's because of the non-linear aspect of the storytelling that made me feel like I could put it down for awhile and not feel lost. But it was still a great read and one I'd recommend!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liz Davidson

    There were moments when this book wasn't holding me—times when I thought the earthquake metaphor was a little twee. But I ended up really liking it. Owusu has had a fascinating and tumultuous life, but it's her extreme honesty that makes this book meaningful. Not only is she brutally honest in ways I can't even imagine being myself, but her writing is absolutely gorgeous and not to be missed. Try it out and stick with it. There were moments when this book wasn't holding me—times when I thought the earthquake metaphor was a little twee. But I ended up really liking it. Owusu has had a fascinating and tumultuous life, but it's her extreme honesty that makes this book meaningful. Not only is she brutally honest in ways I can't even imagine being myself, but her writing is absolutely gorgeous and not to be missed. Try it out and stick with it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Megan Tristao

    From my review for The Everygirl: "Nadia Owusu is a Ghanaian-Armenian-American woman who was raised on two continents and now lives in New York City. In her memoir, this daughter of the world thoughtfully and poetically addresses family dynamics, mental illness, cultural fault lines, and the lasting impacts of colonialism." Throughout the book, Owusu uses the idea of earthquakes (and their "aftershocks") to frame her story. In the hands of a less elegant writer, this could have easily been corny, From my review for The Everygirl: "Nadia Owusu is a Ghanaian-Armenian-American woman who was raised on two continents and now lives in New York City. In her memoir, this daughter of the world thoughtfully and poetically addresses family dynamics, mental illness, cultural fault lines, and the lasting impacts of colonialism." Throughout the book, Owusu uses the idea of earthquakes (and their "aftershocks") to frame her story. In the hands of a less elegant writer, this could have easily been corny, but she makes it work very well. An excellent memoir.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    This poetic, heart wrenching memoir follows Nadia Owusu through her lifelong search for an identity and a home. From her mother's unexplained desertion when she was only two, she never felt a connection to any one place, as her father, an employee of a UN delegation, was transferred regularly. I loved her writing and the fact that she was able to gain several degrees and be recognized for her accomplishments. This poetic, heart wrenching memoir follows Nadia Owusu through her lifelong search for an identity and a home. From her mother's unexplained desertion when she was only two, she never felt a connection to any one place, as her father, an employee of a UN delegation, was transferred regularly. I loved her writing and the fact that she was able to gain several degrees and be recognized for her accomplishments.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I received this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. This is a interesting good memoir. Nadia Owusu story is heart breaking and inspiring. This story about a girl who is abandoned my her Mother and raised by her father and step mother in different parts of the world. She touches on race, culture, sexism, and feminism world wide. I enjoyed looking at the world through her eyes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sanjida

    This reads like a diary, a young woman trying to find herself and figure out how she feels about her family and her life. I found the earthquake metaphors annoying and forced, like an experiment that went awry. As a reader, I felt disconnected, a spy looking in on thoughts that weren't meant for an audience. An editor may have helped. This reads like a diary, a young woman trying to find herself and figure out how she feels about her family and her life. I found the earthquake metaphors annoying and forced, like an experiment that went awry. As a reader, I felt disconnected, a spy looking in on thoughts that weren't meant for an audience. An editor may have helped.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Garrett Zecker

    Aftershocks is an incredible debut memoir from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu that measures the ever-expanding vibrations of the experiences and traumas that shaped the fault lines that crisscross a woman’s adulthood. Beginning with her young experiences being abandoned by her mother and subsequently brought up by her father silently suffering from a brain tumor up until his death in her adolescence, Owusu brings the audience on her journey of self-discovery pitted with the dangers of magnitud Aftershocks is an incredible debut memoir from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu that measures the ever-expanding vibrations of the experiences and traumas that shaped the fault lines that crisscross a woman’s adulthood. Beginning with her young experiences being abandoned by her mother and subsequently brought up by her father silently suffering from a brain tumor up until his death in her adolescence, Owusu brings the audience on her journey of self-discovery pitted with the dangers of magnitude that a young woman of color faces from independence, to education, cat calls to assault, healthy relationships to bad choices, and peppers a strong contextual cultural history of her homes in Massachusetts, New York, Rome, London, Uganda, and Tanzania throughout. There are harrowing tales from her family’s experiences in the Armenian Genocide, near-escapes from a restaurant terror attacks and the twin towers on 9/11, and the gripping fears of learning her brother was arrested – a black man in America - for a crime he didn’t commit. Owusu swirls these experiences and historical ruminations around our heads from a blue chair, pulling each tale like Scheherazade from lessons woven with rich beauty and terrible traumas that seem almost impossible to comprehend from such a short life. Owusu guides us through her process of her mind’s rifts, subsequent repairing, and the destructive aftershocks that reemerge with every new moment requiring introspection. This book is a gorgeous work of creative nonfiction as much as it is a lesson on colonial history, a remembrance on the horrors of genocide, a commentary on the state and history of race relations in the United States and elsewhere, an indictment of the effects of public health / law / and economic policy on the livelihoods of people of color, a memoir about love and family, a conceptualization of the long-term effects of abandonment and loneliness, a case study on epigenetics, and a firsthand portrait of how difficult mental illness makes navigating modern life in a complex, globalized world. Owusu’s prose, and seamless dreamlike transitions between countries, topics, and genres purely illustrate her mastery over her craft. This is a tale of truth. This is a journey. This is a heart-wrenching personal history. A perfect debut sure to send shockwaves across the world in January 2021, and keep aftershocks rumbling for quite some time.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ilana

    Incredible. Review to come on NPR.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bookish Elle

    Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu immerses readers into a cultural and historical journey as we follow the author’s coming-of-age story and what a journey it is! Along the way we learn of the Armenian genocide in the early twentieth century, the Ashanti people and their pre- and post-colonial lives on the gold coast, the Ethiopian Civil War, and of the establishment of Dar es Salaam, “Place of Peace”. We follow Nadia, who speaks several languages and has inhabited several homelands as she tries to deve Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu immerses readers into a cultural and historical journey as we follow the author’s coming-of-age story and what a journey it is! Along the way we learn of the Armenian genocide in the early twentieth century, the Ashanti people and their pre- and post-colonial lives on the gold coast, the Ethiopian Civil War, and of the establishment of Dar es Salaam, “Place of Peace”. We follow Nadia, who speaks several languages and has inhabited several homelands as she tries to develop a sense of identity and find a place of belonging. We see how Nadia’s life is shaped by the shared experiences of her ancestors and how she ultimately draws from those experiences to navigate relationships with the people around her and their cultures. This memoir is beautifully written and had me captivated from the get-go. I enjoyed following the author’s story equally as much as I enjoyed her retelling of history and her engagement of culture throughout the book. Nadia isn’t afraid of being honest and speaking her truths, even the unpleasant ones, and that is refreshing. Unfortunately earthquake analogy didn’t speak to me personally, but I was only disappointed because it was the titular theme of the book. Nevertheless, this book was stimulating and engaging and overall, for me, a delightful read. Nadia ends her debut book pouring libations in recognition of her history and childhood, and the people in them who have informed and shaped her present and future. It is a most fitting end to an incredible journey and a beautifully-written story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daina (Dai2DaiReader)

    This is the heart-breaking and moving debut of Nadia Owusu.  In this memoir, she struggles with her sense of identity and belonging, being abandoned by her mother, her relationship with her father and stepmother, and her physical and emotional traumas.  You really feel her struggle and debate within each chapter.  There is so much packed into this book as she tells her story, how the big and little impacts or aftershocks affect her and how she navigates life through them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sasha (bahareads)

    Owusu has a such a poignant writing voice. The writing was lyrical and smooth. Owusu's memoir touches on topics of identity - racial and cultural, womanhood, home, personal growth and trauma. All of this is tied into earthquakes and everything that comes with them. Owusu writes, “An earthquake is trauma and vulnerability: the earth’s, mine, yours. An earthquake is the ground breaking and the heart breaking.” You can tell Owusu had a deep connection with her father and this shown throughout the s Owusu has a such a poignant writing voice. The writing was lyrical and smooth. Owusu's memoir touches on topics of identity - racial and cultural, womanhood, home, personal growth and trauma. All of this is tied into earthquakes and everything that comes with them. Owusu writes, “An earthquake is trauma and vulnerability: the earth’s, mine, yours. An earthquake is the ground breaking and the heart breaking.” You can tell Owusu had a deep connection with her father and this shown throughout the story. Owusu's life was crazy to read about, I can't imagine some of the things she had to go through. The way the book was segmented was unique and I enjoyed it a lot.

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