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The Girl with the Louding Voice

Abi Daré

Adunni is a 14 year old Nigerian girl.  Her mother urges her to get her education so that she can assert her independence – and find her louding voice.  However, when her mother dies suddenly, her impoverished father breaks his promise, pulling her out of school and selling her to Morufu as his third wife.  If she can bear him a son, her father will get a cash bonus!

Life with Morufu proves untenable so she runs away to Lagos where she is tricked into domestic slavery, working for sucessful but cruel busineswoman, Big Madam and her drunk, lecherous husband.  Despite numerous challenges, the irrepressible Adunni still dreams of completing her education and when she forms a friendship with Ms Tia, she finds her way to realising that dream.

Abi Daré has created an unforgettable character with the persistent and inquisitive Adunni.  As she grapples with the English she is determined to master, she creates wonderful turns of phrase that make the book a delight to read even when the subject matter is tough.

Through a naive 14 year old’s eyes, we see the injustices of a patriarchal society that doesn’t value education for girls and where women themselves collude to maintain the status quo.  The economic disparity between the poor and the uber rich is astounding and brought into sharper focus by the Nigerian Facts that open each chapter later in the book.

There is a rich cast of supporting characters that help or hinder Adunni along the way.  Some give her guidance and support but some exploit her or give vent to their own pain and frustration by beating her.  Throughout, she is non-judgemental and extraordinarily, this young woman helps the reader to show the same compassion.

This was a brilliant read.  Its accessible charm and bright cover might lure you into thinking it is a light read but the author is addressing some weighty themes about patriarchy, social inquity, colonialism, the value of education and the importance of kindness.  Abi Daré has certainly found her louding voice!