I had heard that The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré was an emotional yet powerful read, so I was a bit weary to go into it in case it destroyed me. After I found a used copy for a reasonable price by chance last autumn, I finally decided to pick it up this month, and I’m so glad I did.
In the Nigerian village of Ikati during the 2010’s, Adunni is a fourteen-year-old who passionately loves learning and teaching the younger ones. However, the novel opens after her mother dies, and to make ends meet, her father agrees to her marriage to a sixty-year-old local taxi entrepreneur in exchange for a handsome bride-price. Adunni’s objections do not sway her father’s decisions, and her friends can’t understand why she is upset by this arrangement when her husband-to-be has money and nicer possessions.
But her unfortunate arranged marriage is only the beginning of her journey. With a dream to receive an education and a resilient and friendly resolve, Adunni endeavors to break out of the confines of social expectations and create a better future for herself and the women of her village. Having to leave her family behind, she bravely faces new challenges and opportunities to further her education.
Told from Adunni’s expressive, naive, yet headstrong perspective, this devastating yet hopeful novel ruminates on grief and loss, explores classism and gender inequality, and exposes male sexual predation and housemaid servitude while also rooting itself in empathy, forgiveness, and perseverance. While it critiques aspects of Adunni’s society, it also harbors a deep and fundamental love of country at the same time.
The narrative voice of Adunni employs nontraditional English which adds depth and demonstrates creativity of language use. Moreover, the medium pacing of the novel, while reflective, progresses steadily throughout. Although there are a few very minor issues—-either with a character’s actions or motivation—-this novel is near perfect in its execution and framing.
Readers will be heartbroken and at some points disturbed by this story, but will find Adunni charming and inspiring. The Girl With the Louding Voice will be one to remember.
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