THE PLOT: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré is about a fourteen-year-old girl in Nigeria. The protagonist, Adunni, dreams of going to school but is trapped in her small village by poverty. After the death of her mother, Adunni’s father sells her to be married to an older man. But, when Adunni runs away to Lagos and works as a “housegirl” for a wealthy family, she’s faced with a myriad of troubles as she fights to be heard.
RATING: This is a solid four-star novel as it has captivating characters, an exciting plot and explores issues close to my heart. The author, Abi Daré, deftly tackles important social issues, such as modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and paedophilia. Yet, the book doesn’t feel like a polemic or essay, it’s a true narrative and realistic portrait of the life of a young girl trying to fight her way out of poverty.
GOOD BITS: This book is written in pidgin English, which allows the voice of Adunni to shine through. Her characterization through language and tone is surely what puts this novel above the rest. It allows you to immediately access her thoughts and foibles, her optimistic attitude and readiness to stand up and fight for what she believes in.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: There is an important character, Ms Tia, who initially doesn’t want children but changes her views through the course of the book (promise this isn’t a massive spoiler!). I would’ve preferred to have Ms Tia stick to her convictions of not wanting children, as a contrast to the traditional patriarchal views of Nigerian society. Even in 2020, so many Nigerian women are defined by whether they get married and have children, so it would’ve been nice for Ms Tia to firmly oppose that outdated ideal.
OVERALL: If you liked The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin or Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, this is a book for you. I’d also heartily recommend this book to readers in their mid to late teens because it includes difficult themes, but remains upbeat so it’s a great way to learn more about modern slavery. Not only would it help diversify their reading (assuming you’re not reading this in Nigeria….!), but it could also help them to empathise with young girls who don’t have access to education or books (no matter where you live). It was an enjoyable read and we need more books like this in the world!