Jenna Bush Hager announces September 2020 book club pick

"I could not imagine a better book for this book club," said Jenna.
/ Source: TODAY
By Stephanie Larratt

Our editors independently selected these items because we think you will enjoy them and might like them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time. Learn more about Shop TODAY.

After reading and loving Yaa Gyasi's first novel, "Homegoing," several years ago, Jenna Bush Hager was thrilled to discover the author was writing a second book, "Transcendent Kingdom."

When she was able to acquire a copy, she said she "could not imagine a better book" for Read With Jenna book club members.

Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.

The September 2020 book club pick is about a Ghanian family after they immigrate to Alabama. We meet Gifty while she pursues her Ph.D. at Stanford University, researching the human brain. Her brother, Nana, has previously passed away from a heroin overdose after he was prescribed OxyContin for an ankle injury that led to an opioid addiction. Meanwhile, her gravely depressed mother is living in her bed. Gifty turns to science in a quest to understand the suffering she has experienced in her life. In her search for answers, she also finds herself pulled toward the evangelical faith in which she was raised.

"Transcendent Kingdom" by Yaa Gyasi

Book of the Month is a subscription-based book club that delivers hardcover books to your door at an affordable price. The first month is $9.99 with the code “READWITHJENNA,” and after that, it’s $14.99 a month.

Each month, subscribers choose one of the five featured titles of the month with the option to add-on up to two additional books for $9.99 each. As of Jan. 2020, the #ReadwithJenna pick will be available as an add-on option for subscribers. You can easily pause your subscription at any time or skip a month and roll your credit from one month to another. Just so you know, TODAY has a relationship with Book of the Month Club, so we make a share of revenue from purchases and subscriptions to Book of the Month Club.

"Transcendent Kingdom" considers how we make sense of senseless tragedy in life and what it means to suffer from mental illness. It also explores the complex relationship between an unwell mother and her adult daughter.

When talking about the character of Gifty in the book, Gyasi told TODAY, "She's kind of been formed by the traumas of her childhood. She's a character who is reticent, brilliant, grieving still, and often times kind of hesitant to look at herself even as she questions and examines everything around her."

The book is also the story of immigrants in the United States. It asks readers to consider if the American dream is real and at what cost it is accomplished.

"We hear Gifty’s story of moving from Ghana to Alabama. We walk in her shoes and we know what it feels like to be an immigrant and to feel like you are different or other," said Jenna.

Gyasi, who immigrated to Alabama from Ghana herself, shared that Gifty's story was inspired by the research of one of her best friends in Alabama, who was studying neuroscience too.

"She used to explain it to me in layman's terms, of addiction and depression, so I wondered if it would be possible to fashion a novel around this question of a woman who is doing this research while experiencing the things that she researches in her own life," said Gyasi.

She shared that she hopes the book will shed a light on the humanity of mental health and reduce stigma.

Similarly, Jenna wants this book to be a conversation starter on important issues.

"The fact that this book tackles the themes of mental health and race at this moment in our culture, I think will lead our book club to have some really important conversations," she said.

To stay up to date on the latest book club news, subscribe to the Read With Jenna newsletter!

For more book recommendations, check out:

To discover more deals, shopping tips and budget-friendly product recommendations, download the TODAY app and subscribe to the Stuff We Love newsletter!