Aftershocks offers an incisive and tender reminder that life does not take place in neat categories, no matter where you are from. We are many-sided and infinitely malleable, and all the better for it. “I am made of the earth, flesh, ocean, blood, and bone of all the places I tried to belong to and all the people I long for,” Owusu reflects; and with that, “I am home”.
Responses to the question of “where are you from” are not simple and must be self-critical. They at times require excavation into family histories and a grim examination of how different kinds of privileges intersect. In Aftershocks, Owusu lets these concepts linger. When her father is stationed in Addis Ababa, the walls of the international compound shield her view of the shantytowns outside. During the civil war, when rebel soldiers breach the compound to conscript children, what shields Owusu and her siblings is less tangible but more potent.