At the beginning of 2020 I was inspired to consciously start looking for books written by Black authors. After discovering some of my favourite books of all times (shoutout to Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – my review), I am definitely continuing to read Black authors in 2021 and further on!
I first heard about The Girl with the Louding Voice almost one year ago, from fellow blogger Lisa from ANZ Lit Lovers – check out her amazing blog for lovers of Australian and New Zealand literary fiction.
The Girl with the Louding Voice in a nutshell
The book tells the story of Adunni, a 14-year-old girl who grew up in a village in Nigeria. Adunni is determined to have “a louding voice” – to be able to fight for herself, to be educated, and to have (what we would call) a normal life.
Her journey starts from being sold as wife of a local taxi driver to becoming a housemaid and continuing her attempts to get educated. It only offers a glimpse of the hardships poor girls endure when they want to escape the vicious circle of poverty and slavery.
I loved reading this book! It is a touching story that shows the realities of girls who are sold as wives or as housemaids at a young age, getting into domestic slavery. Physical and verbal violence are daily routine, and getting educated is only a dream for most of them.
The story is written using Adunni’s narrative voice, in broken English. While being a bit difficult to follow at the beginning, Adunni’s English is an amazing reflection of her evolution. It also brings funny moments when certain phrases are not understood, for example braces are “gates on the teeth”, or Surrey is “Sorry, a sad city” 🙂
The priceless importance of support
The story of Adunni highlights how important is to have support in order to go beyond the status quo. Adunni is lucky to have 2 people who play a vital role in her fight to get an education, and they make all the difference!
This aspect reminded me of the memoir Educated by Tara Westover (my review). She also lacked the support of her family, but professors and friends helped to surpass the emotional and financial barriers.
Learning about Nigeria
While being a housemaid, Adunni studies a book called The Book of Nigerian Facts – while the book itself is fictional, the facts presented are real. From these facts I learnt so much about Nigeria, a country about which, unfortunately, I knew almost nothing about.
From Nollywood (Nigeria’s film industry) to religion (Nigeria has the largest Christian population in Africa) and politics (Nigerian senators are among the highest paid lawmakers in the world), the facts about Nigeria are super interesting!
What also caught my eye is that Nigerians have superstitions about pregnancy – for example, attaching a safety pin to a pregnant woman’s clothing will ward off evil spirits. In Romania we have a similar superstitious belief that attaching a red thread to a person’s wrist (like a bracelet) protects from evil spirits and the evil eye.
More about Abi Daré & book club kit
The Girl with the Louding Voice is the debut novel of Abi Daré – Nigerian author who now lives in England. If you are interested to find out more about her I recommend this 20 minutes interview on Youtube – link here – or this 50 minutes one – link here.
There is also a very nice book club kit by Penguin Random house – access it here.
The Girl with the Louding Voice tells an incredibly inspiring story of a young girl from Nigeria. It presents the realities of girls born in poor families in rural Nigeria and how domestic slavery is the beaten path for many of them. But it is also a story of hope, illustrating that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. A story I recommend reading with all my heart!
‘Till next time … happy reading!
Cover picture from Today.com