Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

Thanks to Penguin Random House for a review copy of this book. It's one of those books I probably would have missed completely otherwise, and I'm so glad I got to meet Adunni. She's an unforgettable character. 

Adunni is fourteen, and living in a small village in Nigeria. Her mother has died, leaving Adunni with her waste of a father and her two brothers. She had been going to school at the wish of her mother, and she loves it. She knows education is the way out. Unfortunately, her father doesn't feel the same way, and makes her leave school. He sells her to an older man in another village for the money to pay rent and for food. Adunni is crushed. She doesn't have a choice, so she ends up the third wife of this man who only cares about getting her pregnant and having a son. 

Adunni faces so many trials, and so many hard choices. She's constantly treated as a commodity and never as the bright young woman she really is. She's never heard. Adunni's dream is to continue her education, become a teacher, and help other young girls become successful and have more choices. But other people are in control of Adunni's life for most of the novel, as she flees her marriage and ends up in Lagos working as a house servant for a very wealthy woman. Adunni is treated horribly; only fed once a day, made to clean a mansion top to bottom every day, and beaten regularly for absolutely no reason. She's also under threat of rape by her Madam's leacherous husband, Big Daddy. The only hope Adunni has is in securing a scholarship for a school that will provide a free education, a place to live, food and clothing for her. That hope rests with a friendship Adunni forms with a young wife who recognizes the potential in Adunni and secretly works with her to write the essay that will secure the scholarship. 

The rhythm of Adunni's thoughts and speech took a little bit to get used to, but once I was in, it wasn't hard at all to move through the story. Adunni is such a strong young woman. She's so innocent, but keeps believing life will get better even when things look grim. By the end of Adunni's tale, I was so darn proud of her absolute belief in herself, and never giving up on her dream. All she wants is to walk in a room and "...people will hear me even before I open my mouth to be speaking." She wants her louding voice. 

A big thanks to Penguin Random House for the opportunity to discover the story of Adunni. Author Abi Dare has created a remarkable, strong, unforgettable character in her first novel. You won't soon forget Adunni--a  courageous young woman who keeps believing even in the darkest moments. 

Rating: 5/6 for a powerful novel about hope, courage, the rights of women, and the belief in pursuing a dream. 

Available in hard cover, ebook, and audio book. 

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