The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel. Abi Dare. Penguin Publishing Group. February 2020. pb, 384 pp.; ISBN: 9781524746025.
Adunni wants to become educated, to learn and share that learning so that she will be known before she is seen. This advice came from her mother but was cut off when her mother died and the family could not even afford the rent of their home. However, Adunni goes on teaching her siblings to read and write and do simple math problems. Her father had promised her mother this would continue but he breaks his promise and arranges a marriage for Adunni at the age of 14. The dowry money sets her family up for comfort and Adunni marries a man with one goal, to have Adunni give birth to a boy. Adunni is absolutely devastated.
An unpredictable and devastating tragedy occurs and Adunni knows she will be killed unless she leaves her small town in Nigeria. So, she escapes by running away to Lagos, a large city full of millionaires and successful merchants. There she works for an entrepreneur who is not only very rich but also very cruel. She regularly beats Adunni, whose only comfort are the books in her master’s library. Unfortunately, the lady’s husband is a playboy whose behavior caused the loss of the last housemaid in Adunni’s position.
Adunni has two good friends whose help will enable her to attain her dream of becoming a teacher. This is the story of her journey to become a “louding voice,” replete with all of her challenges. Adunni’s personality is the most captivating part of this story. She has all the normal fears and sorrowful reactions to the cruelty around her but refuses to be daunted by them. Others are thrown by her incessant questioning and curiosity but she survives their mockery and disbelief. Some additional attention goes to Nigeria’s political condition which is on the verge of either democracy or a military dictatorship. Adunni marvels at the wealth Nigeria has attained and its prominent place in the world economy.
The Girl with the Louding Voice… is a memorable read about the difficult but promising world of visions and dreams, about the need to move beyond superstition and prejudice, about the role of faith in which to center one’s life. Remarkable and highly recommended read! Great writing, Abi Dare!