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Life in another country is always enlightening. The difference between wealth and poverty, those who give and those who take, those who are successful and the unsuccessful. There are strong examples of extremities on this book
A portrait of Nigeria’s troubled cultural clashes, old with new, rural with urban, rich against poor and the suffering of an extraordinary young girl, her unbroken spirit carrying her out of bondage I loved her use of unrefined English and the boldness of the descriptions of her early rural life. It gave it real authenticity and rich colour.
This is an engaging book, written in the first person in the voice of a young Nigerian girl who is sold off at 15 into an arranged marriage to an elderly man who already has two wives. Adunni speaks to us throughout in a kind of argot which you may, or may not, find endearing. I found the language interesting and kept looking up the native dishes; puff puffs and the types of rice and beans dishes. Adunni is both annoying and sweet, a chatterbox who is neither wholly naive nor really experienced. All she wants is an education and in Nigeria it seems this is something that has to be won and not at all to be expected by a poor girl from a village. The social divides are thrown up; women are to be traded or punished for their inability to produce offspring. Even those in a higher social bracket may be dragged down into the horrific superstitious and ignorant miasma of a patriarchal and inhibiting system. Adunni mostly starves, both for kindness and for food. Yet throughout she retains her kindness to others, and self belief. She acts as a sex slave to her older husband whilst being cruelly treated by one of his wives, she becomes attached to the other who is pregnant. I do not wish to spoil the story, but eventually Adunni is traded again and becomes a housemaid to a prosperous but sadistic cloth merchant where she would all but perish but for those who notice her spirit. I found parts of the books gruelling and unpleasant, but do not be put off as none is particularly graphic and the book is suitable for a a young adult.Poverty is just appalling; even in a rich household Adunni wears old broken shoes and a dress that is too large. She works from dawn till midnight for one meal a day and no pay. She handwashes clothes that will be machine washed anyway and is savagely beaten if she asks a question. Her name is 'idiot' and she is treated thus. I found this harrowing but it is clearly a common occurence in Nigeria. It is worth reading this book for the clever use of language, for teh plot and to raise you awareness. I think the author has done a great thing. I gave the book four stars, because from a literary point of view, it is engaging but not absolutely astonishing and the ending is a bit abrupt.I did weep a little for little Adunni and for he the poor second wife. I'd like this author to write some more great things. She has a brilliant voice and a lovely humour and her book exudes warmth and love. I saw Abi Dare interviewed on Sky arts Book Club and absolutely fell in love with her. She is super smashing, passionate and articulate. Wonderful lady.