Everything Good Will Come by Sefi Atta

Everything Good Will Come

Genre: Fiction: Coming of Age.

Blurb “It is 1971, and Nigeria is under military rule, though the politics of the state matter less than those of her home to Enitan Taiwo, an eleven-year-old girl tired of waiting for school to start. Will her mother, who has become deeply religious since the death of Taiwo’s brother, allow her friendship with the new girl next door, the brash and beautiful Sheri Bakare? This novel charts the fate of these two African girls, one who is prepared to manipulate the traditional system while the other attempts to defy it.”

Dialogue Well written, conversational with smatterings of local languages and believable.

Themes Family, Love, Injustice, Self-discovery, Religion, Love, Friendship, Class system, Political unrest, Feminism, Self-preservation.

Editing A few errors.

Plot The book does not have a main plot. The story follows the lives of Enitan and Sheri, two women who grew up in Lagos in the 1970s and 80s. It spans across two decades.

What worked?

Our review is 2 weeks late. We explained why here.

Mo It’s been a minute since we read a good book. Scratch that… this year we’ve read some uninspiring and lukewarm books making our approach to reading any more books blasé. As though there’s a conspiracy to hide all the good books away from us.

Incidentally, neither Lady B nor I had read this oldie but goodie. So, we decided to dig in.

If you have read our blog since inception you would know that I love all things coming of age. But what I wasn’t expecting was that Enitan would come of age over two decades! The first half of the book-1971 is a fantastic, fast paced read. This memoir styled book is written in first person and narrated by Enitan. We read about Lagos and her energy, and life in the post-colonial era through the eyes of this eleven-year-old. Her forbidden friendship with the girl next door (I guess because of the difference in religion and background) is an interesting touch. As you read, you realise that this story is as much Enitan’s as it is Sheri’s. The style of writing and narration, the quick wit and humour; sometimes dry, sometimes dark, is my favourite aspect of the book. The story has the backdrop of the political scene in the country and is often punctuated by events. Although, the last part of this book (‘95 era) concentrated on these events making it seem like a social commentary instead.

The complexity and relatability of the characters is a strength. I love the character development for Sheri the most, her character is well fleshed out, and I’d have loved to read more about her. We get to read about her and Enitan’s innocent friendship earlier in the book but in the last parts it became a passing commentary. Also, the book highlights so many cultural references to our ways of life and relationships; between men and women and, older and younger persons.

The journey to self-discovery by both Enitan and Sheri makes this a good coming of age book for everyone.

Lady B Everything Good Will Come is a story which follows the lives of Enitan and Sheri in Nigeria (and the UK, briefly). It is narrated in the first person so we read the story from the perspective of Enitan.

The writing is witty, poetic and includes vivid descriptions about Lagos which will be relatable to anyone who lived in or visited Lagos during these periods. The socio-economic and socio-political situations in Nigeria form the backdrop of this story. The all too familiar repression of citizens during military rule amidst the declining economy and rise of poverty, rising crime rates, poor infrastructural development etc. are a constant throughout the story and we see its effects on the lives of the characters.

Sheri’s story is more authentic and interesting. I wish more time was spent on her character. I enjoyed reading about how both women navigated the treacherous waters of the patriarchal society they lived in. The book discusses some uncomfortable everyday realities though some issues are mentioned in passing rather than an in-depth analysis.

What didn’t work?

Mo The momentum of the book. Enitan’s life became bland towards the end of the book. The 1995 part was not focused on the girls or their lives. We didn’t even have enough time to digest Enitan’s involvement with the political activism campaign. I didn’t understand her relationship with her husband and why it even had to end the way it did. Everything seemed so rushed towards the end of the book. The ending was an anti-climax for me, I think the book should have ended with a bang.

Lady B This book is a slow burner and tracks the everyday lives of the characters. Even though it worked for us, it may not work for those who like drama and excitement. It also dragged in some places with unnecessary details.

Enitan’s “liberal” upbringing by her father was not the norm in those days in Nigeria. This aspect of her life makes her an outlier that Nigerians and perhaps Africans born in that era may not relate to.

Number of pages 336 (Paperback).

Publisher Interlink Pub Group.

Damage N3,200 on The Book Sellers Ltd.

Rating 7.3/10.

Everything Good Will Come is available on Amazon and in local bookstores.

Have you read Everything Good Will Come? Let’s chat in the comments section.

This review was featured on Twinkl in their blog Top Interesting Books by Nigerian Authors.

4 replies

  1. Great review. Slow books at this time of year put me to sleep. I need quicker paced novels. That’s why I’m always hesitant to grab autobiographies unless it’s people like Richard Pryor who lived colorful lives.
    Thanks for the honesty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks. Her writing style works but if you want a quicker paced novel, this isn’t the one for you. I’ll see what her other books are like in due course. I’m not a fan of biographies or autobiographies. I rarely read them.