The Girl With the Louding Voice
by Abi Daré
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin Group)
Book Release Date: February 4, 2020
My Review: ★★★★★
A powerful, emotional debut novel told in the unforgettable voice of a young Nigerian woman who is trapped in a life of servitude but determined to fight for her dreams and choose her own future.
Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”—the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni’s father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir.
When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option before her is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.
But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. And when she realizes that she must stand up not only for herself, but for other girls, for the ones who came before her and were lost, and for the next girls, who will inevitably follow; she finds the resolve to speak, however she can—in a whisper, in song, in broken English—until she is heard.
What an amazing, heartbreaking, and inspirational read! The voice of this narrative was so vivid. It’s written in a way that you can actually hear the African accent in your mind, which makes the book so immersive. The book follows Adunni, a 14 year old whose mother has died, and although her culture is clearly very patriarchal, it was clear that the women are the true backbone of her society. Throughout the story, we get a glimpse of how women keep things from crumbling around them, and in their absence, we see how things begin to crumble.
Adunni’s story is genuinely heartbreaking, especially when you consider she’s 14 years old. But this book was so amazing, it set the tone of perseverance and hope amidst grave circumstances and held that tone from beginning to end. A tone I think the world over could learn and benefit from right now!
There were parts of this book so powerful, they stuck with me. There’s one character Adunni meets who befriends her along the way who experiences something horrific. She comes back to Adunni after the fact more determined than ever to help her, and Adunni can’t fathom why. She tells Adunni that she got but a simple taste of what Adunni has to live every single day, just a taste of Adunni’s life. I literally cried during this scene, and trust me when I say this is not a spoiler, this barely grazes the surface of this particular part of the book.
Needless to say, this was an amazing story that I highly, highly recommend.