Title/Author: The Girl with The Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Publisher: Penguin Group Dutton
In a nutshell (Publisher):
A powerful, emotional debut novel told in the unforgettable voice of a young Nigerian woman who is trapped in a life of servitude but determined to fight for her dreams and choose her own future.
Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”—the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni’s father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir.
When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option before her is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.
But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. And when she realizes that she must stand up not only for herself, but for other girls, for the ones who came before her and were lost, and for the next girls, who will inevitably follow; she finds the resolve to speak, however she can—in a whisper, in song, in broken English—until she is heard.
My verdict: Heartbreaking, yet inspiring and uplifting…Definitely one of my top reads this year!
At 14, Adunni lost not only her mother, she lost her family, her friends, and most of all, her education and freedom to be who she is, to be a girl with a ‘louding voice’; to dreams to be a teacher and to be heard. Her father sold Adunni to a man as his third wife, “because Papa is needing moneys for food and community rent and nonsense…”. She was raped by him and bullied by his first wife. Only Khadija, the second wife, befriended her. Unfortunately, the friendship didn’t last and it devastated Adunni.
Like that wasn’t bad enough, she became a wanted person in her village, Ikati, which led her to the ‘big, shining, city’ Lagos. There, she was hired as a housemaid of a very rich, abusive lady, Big Madam. However, she never got to see a dime that she earned; all her earnings went to a middleman. Bad luck followed her that entire year, but like an inflatable punching bag, she bounced back, again and again.
Many times I wanted to tell Adunni to keep her louding voice shut and save herself from trouble! But this feisty girl just wouldn’t. She just wanted to be heard, and nobody, nothing, not even countless blows on her head, would and could ever stop her.
Will her passion, courage, intelligence and louding voice be the end of her, or would it save her from a lifetime of suffering?
Wow. This novel was incredible! After reading it I wanted to talk to everyone about it, but alas, those who share my passion are only online LOL
I can confidently say that this is going to be on my top reads list in 2020. It has all the ingredients of a fantastic book – flawless writing, an authentic voice, rich and memorable characters, strong sense of place and perfect pacing. It has all the qualities of a good novel – immersive and enlightening, captivating and compelling; one that’d capture the hearts of many.
Adunni. I can’t help but fall in love with this brave, feisty, intelligent girl whose ‘louding mouth’ not only got her in trouble but also friendship in the most unexpected places. And her humorous and unique observations of people (mostly people she dislike) and things around her in her own patois, brought a smile on my face every time! Some examples:
“Lagos is just a noise-making place with too much light and glass” when asked what she thought of Lagos and described ice-cream as “block-milk”
“The red stone stairs climbing down from the front of a wide black door is reminding me of a tongue, the tongue of a giant that been eating too many shining things” when describing Big Madam’s house.
“Her face is white, be like she mash up white chalk and use it as powder” when describing Labake, Morufu’s first wife.
The relationships with the people she met – from her own brother, Kayus, her ‘husband’s’ second wife, Khadija to Big Madam’s chef, Kofi, Iya, her mother’s friend who helped her in getting out of Lagos, even the one who abused her, Big Madam, were genuine, heartfelt and honest.
There were many instances that pulled at my heartstrings, tore my heart out then put back again – that moment when Iya risked her life for her, or when the chef offered her ‘morning food‘ which wasn’t allowed by Big Madam, or when Tia came to her rescue when she was beaten to a pulp by Big Madam.
The issues brought up in this novel are important to note too such as domestic violence, domestic slavery, the use of underage girls as housemaids, class distinction, forced marriages and rape. They fell into the narrative seamlessly without feeling forced.Tweet
The ending was predictable, and yes, very sentimental, a little bittersweet, read: Hallmark, which some found a little too rushed; but to me, it was satisfying and uplifting, because I was contented to know Adunni had all the happiness in the world she deserved.
This is a must-read. I’m channeling Adunni’s louding voice now to ask you to read this, read this, NOW.
One thing to note though. I wouldn’t categorize this as a YA read even though it’s told by a 14 yo, just in case some of you worry that this book might be too ‘young’ for you.
More: Fiction isn’t far away from the truth. Here’s a heartbreaking documentary by BBC on housegirls in Nigeria.
Have you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to read it? Please share with me your thoughts!
Meanwhile, I hope you and your family are staying safe & well! Stay home & stop the spread. Take care, wash your hands and happy reading!