It took me nine days to finish what is a comparatively short book (379 pages). Even in the middle of the COVID-19 Quarantine, and the extra reading time it provides. Why? Because this is simply a hard story to read. Very Hard! And I kept wanting to put it down and escape. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.
THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE takes you deep inside Nigeria (the most populous country in Africa.) From life in a small rural village (where young girls are routinely married off -aka sold – in exchange for a guarantee of a more stable food supply) to life in the main city of Lagos, where even business success and affluence provides neither a guarantee of political stability nor happiness. It’s a country straddling the divide between ancient customs and culture and the technological and social advancements of the modern world.
The story centers on 14 year old Adunni — whose beloved mother has recently died, forcing her to abandon the success she has had in school to take care of her father and two brothers. Living in desperately impoverished circumstances, she nonetheless dreams of returning to her education and eventually becoming a teacher. Unfortunately, opportunities are few in a rural village, especially for young girls. And so, for the good of the family, Adunni’s future takes a new direction that her father determines will be best for all.
It turns out to be a harrowing journey for Adunni, still a child with little control over her circumstances. Along the way, there is hunger, human trafficking, physical abuse, and sexual harassment. That’s the part that made this novel difficult to read. There are also friendships, protectors, and advocates.
The author has been extremely creative in the voice she gives Adunni, which adds to her believability and makes this read VERY distinctive. And for those who complete the book, Adunni turns out to be quite an amazing, spirited, intelligent and caring person!
Bottom line: I am glad to understand more now about a country I never learned much about. I have been reminded of how vastly different life experiences are for children, depending on the geographical accident of their birth location. But I also had to confront the horrible experiences children sometimes face when resources are scarce, when they are powerless, and where a single female life is grossly undervalued. So, be warned.
More about the very talented author, Abi Daré, who grew up in Nigeria and now lives in the U.K.
A short video by the author about the heroine of this book is available HERE (you MUST scroll down the page).