Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice

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Review for "The Girl with the Louding Voice" by Abi Dare (2020)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ahhh, this book made me want to stand up and cheer!

“The Girl with the Louding Voice” is the story of 14-year-old Adunni, a Nigerian girl who longs to go back to school and become a teacher. Her mother is dead, and her father believes that education is wasted on girls. When the family falls upon hard financial times, her father accepts a tv and several other gifts as a bride price for his daughter. He gives Adunni away in marriage to an older man who already has two wives and several children.

As a wife, Adunni finds life unbearable. She quickly discovers that her husband is only concerned with her bearing him a boy to raise. His older first wife is cruel and causes her constant misery. In contrast, her husband’s much younger second wife is kind, and her and Adunni develop a lasting friendship. After a tragedy involving the second wife, Adunni escapes to the large city of Lagos, where she finds work as a servant to a wealthy, abusive mistress. When an opportunity to further her education comes and offers Adunni a chance to escape, she takes it–in great peril to her life.

I loved this book. Although the portrait of rural life is bleak (child marriage, sexual exploitation, trafficking, and forced servitude are very real), Adunni uses her ‘louding voice’ to rise up and make a difference in her circumstances. Adunni also speaks a very basic English in a very distinct dialect, which found its own rhythm as the story moved forward. The language, along with her courage and determination to make a better life for herself were what made this book worthwhile.

4.5 stars. Definitely read this if you get the chance!

Review: Everything Inside

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Review for "Everything Inside" by Edwidge Danticat (2019)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’ve said this and I’ll say it again: short story collections are usually hit or miss for me. Although I love the genre, I always end up liking some, none, or most of the stories therein. This collection is an exception to the “some, none, and most” rule, as every single story here is a literary achievement.

I’ve read just about everything Edwidge Danticat has written, from “Krik? Krak!” to “The Dew Breaker” to “Breathe, Eyes, Memory” and everything in between. “Everything Inside”is a wonderful collection of eight short stories, all featuring characters from the Haitian diaspora living in Miami. Her characters deal with death, love, and loss and their lives are complicated. Each story is well written and thought out, with beautiful language that leaps off the page.

Favorites here include “Dosas,” a story of romantic entanglement and betrayal featuring a husband, wife, and a female lover; “In the Old Days,” about a woman who meets her dying father for the first time, and “Without Inspection,” a harrowing tale that narrates a Haitian emigre’s final thoughts as he falls 40 stories from a building to his death.

Five stars. Hands up, way way up.