Blurb “I don’t just want to be having any kind voice . . .
I want a louding voice.
At fourteen, Adunni dreams of getting an education and giving her family a more comfortable home in her small Nigerian village. Instead, Adunni’s father sells her off to become the third wife of an old man. When tragedy strikes in her new home, Adunni flees to the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where she becomes a house-girl to the cruel Big Madam, and prey to Big Madam’s husband. But despite her situation continuously going from bad to worse, Adunni refuses to let herself be silenced. And one day, someone hears her.”
Dialogue Written in broken English with smatterings of Yoruba, the dialogue did not always ring true. (See our what did not work section).
Themes The role of girls/women in society, fertility, family and marriage.
Editing Well edited.
Plot The story follows Adunni, a 14-year-old girl who had just lost her mother and was married off by her father to an old taxi driver who already had 2 wives. Adunni wishes to get an education but her wishes remain a dream as she is forced to escape to Lagos where she is trafficked to a cruel taskmaster, Big Madam. Despite her pitiable circumstances, Adunni keeps her dream of getting an education alive hoping for a big break one day.
What worked? It’s been a few months since we last posted a review so we were glad to dig into this book. To start with, ‘The Girl with the Louding Voice’ is written in the first person. So, we view the entire story from the perspective of the protagonist, Adunni in broken English! The upside of the narration in broken English is that you connect better with Adunni and see the world through her eyes.
The book dwells on a familiar trope around child labour/trafficking of minors who work as domestic servants in terrible conditions. It also touches on child marriage, the lot of the girl child, the challenges of marriage and fertility.
We liked that despite the difficulties Adunni faced, the storytelling isn’t heavy and weighing you down as a reader. So, you appreciate how tough life was for Adunni but her feisty, can-do attitude adds some hope and lightness to the story and you find yourself rooting for Adunni.
The author, Abi, employs descriptive writing and while a few times it may have been over-the-top – considering it was Adunni’s perspective – it made it easier to form pictures of the places and people in the story.
Overall, this is an interesting read on an important topic around the girl child. The way it is written makes you view life from the perspective of the protagonist – putting yourself in her shoes.
What didn’t work? The downside of the narration in broken English is that the broken English seemed made up. We know that sounds weird but we will explain. Although broken English may seem incorrect, there is a structure to it. For example, instead of saying ‘your mother have dead,’ as is written in the book someone speaking in broken English would more likely say ‘your mother have die’. For us, the novelty of the broken English quickly wore off as it was not relatable to what we hear/know.
The end of the story was anti climatic as the resolution regarding Rebecca was flat. Also, we would have liked to know what happened to Adunni’s families in Ikati.
Luckily for Adunni, unlike other girls in her situation, she seemed to have angels willing to help her wherever she went. This made the story more fairy tale like and a little less plausible to us.
Number of pages 314.
Damage $10.99 on Amazon.
If you like The Girl with the Louding Voice, you will like The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia.