Plot: Adunni is a 14 year old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants out of life – an education – but instead, her father sells her off to an old local taxi man as a third wife in exchange for money for his drunken escapades. A sequence of events leads Adunni to escape to the city, where she is forced to live a life of servitude to a wealthy family. This is a story about lack of choices but having a will to survive and come out of the other side with a loud, confident voice and sense of self.
“I want to tell her that God is not a cement building of stones and sand. That God is not for all that putting inside a house and locking Him there. I want her to know that the only way to know if a person find God and keep Him in their heart is to check how the person is treating other people, if he treats people like Jesus says–with love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness.”
Taynement: So I don’t remember how I saw this book but I remember texting you immediately that we have to read it.
Leggy: The first time I saw this book was on Book of the Month. I didn’t even read the description. I just saw the Nigerian name and picked it as my book of the month.
Taynement: How did you feel about the book?
Leggy: It took me a while to get into this book because of the way it was written. It was written in the first person narrative form of a semi illiterate girl and it took me a while to find a rhythm.
Taynement: I completely know what you mean. It was definitely a con for me and I think it validates reading vs. audio-ing it. I can’t imagine it on audio. A friend told me she tried the audio but she couldn’t do it.
Leggy: It was very distracting. I dropped this book many times and finished so many books before finally getting through this one. I can’t imagine it on audio either, must be painful to the ears.
Taynement: I really liked this book. I liked it because of the message and because it could have easily been basic but I think Dare wrote it well. She steered away from that.
Leggy: I liked it too but not as much as you did. I gave it 3 stars.
1- Because of the author’s choice to write in the first person narrative voice of the main character, Adunni. Which as I mentioned, she was a semi-illiterate so, it was all in broken English with wrong tenses and words.
2- Because I never fully got into this book. I liked the message, but was never pulled in all the way through. I think I only pulled through because of this chitchat. But when I finished, I messaged a friend of mine to read it because I think it was totally in her wheel house. It just wasn’t in mine.
Taynement: I was pulled into it all the way through. Any book that has me turning the page and I don’t feel it’s a chore, is a win. I honestly think you had a right book, wrong time moment. Okay, let’s talk about the characters.
Leggy: I thought Madam Florence was a caricature. I didn’t find her character real at all. It’s not that I thought she couldn’t exist. What I had a problem with is that, I wish Dare could have made her more complex because at some point, the author wanted us to sympathize with her but I just couldn’t. After all the wickedness, who the hell cares about her feelings. They were beating her and I kept turning the page, with no regard to her feelings. When she went through a whole period of pain and reflection after catching her husband in Adunni’s room, I rolled my eyes so much. I just hated her.
Taynement: Really? I found her very real. In fact she reminds me of someone I know. I never felt like the author wanted us to sympathize with her at any point. She was a horrid person, through and through. Yes, her husband Chief was terrible but she was a monster herself. The forefront emotion I felt reading this book was foreboding. From the minute I started, I just kept waiting for the bad thing to happen. I kept saying: “Nothing good can come out of this”. I hated Adunni’s dad too.
Leggy: Girl especially when Adunni was in that marriage, I had such foreboding. I kept waiting for the ball to drop. I’ve watched enough Nollywood movies to know you don’t just get away unscathed. What did you think of Ms. Tia?
Taynement: I liked her and what she represented, but I also thought if this was a Hollywood movie she would be the white savior.
Leggy: Yup, I found it weird how after the conversation with Adunni she suddenly wanted children after years of not wanting them. Her whole story line seemed to be rushed.
Taynement: The way I saw it, when her and her husband met, they both didn’t want children but along the way, she changed her mind but didn’t know how to say so. Adunni just somehow bubbled it up to the surface but it was something she’d been thinking about. I guess it would have helped if Dare had fleshed it out more.
Leggy: That makes more sense, I can see that being the case. She was so oyinbo pepper. Anyway, I was super happy with the end. I can’t stand authors who suddenly decide to pull the rug from under your feet after you’ve invested so much time in their story.
Taynement: I agree. One more thing, thoughts on Kofi?
Leggy: I really liked him. He was one of my favorite characters in the book. He was super upstanding and helped Adunni through out her stay in Madam Florence’s house. Also, he was the main person responsible for her happy ending. He’s the one who found the scholarship and encouraged her to apply.
Taynement: I do think the book was a good balance of evil and hope and I do like the idea of the book being a voice for the unheard in Nigeria. The domestic helps who seem invisible but probably have all these hopes and dreams that they aren’t even allowed to have. I can’t imagine being shackled with no choice and having to deal with whatever else comes with that. No food, high chance of sexual abuse, physical abuse and just being treated like crap. Nigerians have this evil and nonchalant behavior towards domestic helps who are mostly young girls brought to serve in households against their will.
Leggy: I agree with you. I do think this book was hopeful and would definitely recommend it.
Taynement: Oooh and I’m here for unapologetic Nigerian authors. I’m seeing way less explanations in books. They’re using words and languages and scenarios without explanations and I find myself wondering less about how western counterparts will interpret thinks. I think it’s great!
“You must do good for other peoples, even if you are not well, even if the whole world around you is not well.”
Taynement & Leggy