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.
Dear The Girl with the Louding Voice,
I feel grateful to have watch Adunni’s story unfold. Not only to see the resiliency of humankind, but also for the realization of gifts I have been given. Your story was heartbreaking, and I did cry with you, yet it was triumphant. I am encouraged to continue forward with perseverance, despite obstacles which seem insurmountable.
P.S. Trigger Warnings: Strong themes of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Ok, if you ever want a good book, go to the online Goldsboro bookstore. Every book I have ordered from them or gotten through their book club has been excellent. They go both above and beyond with care in picking and packing the books — not sponsored, I just really enjoy them! Now onto the actual book: The Girl with the Louding Voice.
Let’s be honest, I was drawn in by the colorful cover. I don’t “judge a book by it’s cover”, but I am drawn by cover art. When I read the description, I knew it was a book I wanted to get my hands on. Yet, when I first received the book and started to read it I was put off a little bit. I enjoyed this book, however it was hard to get into because of the grammar. The author purposefully uses language to show the mind of Adunni. For instance, she will switch up the tenses of verbs or use phrases like “louding voice”. It is done interestingly, quite a unique literary style, however it was difficult for me to get into.
After the first quarter to third of the book, I grew used to the style of writing and was able to immerse myself into the plot. Adunni finds herself the third wife of an abusive man who wants a son. He has a lot of daughters, but it isn’t enough, he wants a son. After a traumatic event, Adunni runs away to find herself put into a human trafficking situations. Taken away (well, she left in duress) from her town she becomes the housekeeper to an abusive woman. In this home, there is some support with the chef and a library. I enjoyed seeing Adunni blossom as she sought out to educate herself. In the midst of so much pain and stress, Adunni is persistent and perseveres through it all.
Adunni meets a kindred spirit and slowly a friendship evolves. This friendship with Tia unfolds naturally, despite the income gap. Tia supports Adunni and empowers her to advocate for herself. Every woman in this book showed the strength and tenderness of women, even if I didn’t like every character. In addition to Tia, she has Kofi’s (the chef) support in the household. He takes on a sort of older brother role with Adunni. Each character was well developed and I felt like Abi Daré excelled in their development.
I would recommend this book to a reader interested in women’s rights, international worldview, and social activism. Daré writes daringly as she exposes some of the corrupt behavior in Nigeria. She writes facts to draw readers in to what it really looks like for girls like Adunni, despite the laws intended to protect her. Education is so powerful, and in the United States it is a privileged for all young people. Inside this privilege, I wonder if we have lost some of the awe and tenacity to take advantage of this opportunity. For myself, I left this book with gratitude for the opportunity to pursue advanced education for myself. For the ability to read and write freely. And for the freedom I have been given. This is an inspiring book, which leaves readers with little fingerprints of Adunni on their hearts.