Overall Rating: 5/5
Genre: Literary fiction, bildungsroman
Read if you loved: Educated by Tara Westover, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Content warnings: R*pe, physical & emotional abuse
This book left me speechless.
After the death of her mother, 14-year old Adunni is sold into marriage to allow her father and brothers a chance at bettering their poverty-stricken lives in rural Nigeria. Despite her horrific circumstances, she remains steadfast in pursuing the one goal that her mother instilled in her – to obtain an education and find her voice. But this book is about so much more than that. The Girl with the Louding Voice is distressing, uncomfortable, and deeply inspiring. Abi Daré is unflinching in her immersive storytelling, one that delves into the horrors that lie in the darkest trenches of life, all while keeping that burning flame of hope just in sight. It made me reevaluate what a “5-star” book means – a novel that will remain in my heart and perhaps even leave me changed in some capacity. Without a doubt this is one of those books.
Adunni is such a beautiful character. Her sass and wit made me fall in love with her right away, and my admiration for her only continued to grow as the book progressed. She is such a compelling narrator and the writing style directly embodies her character development and growth, engaging the reader with the protagonist in a truly special way. In fact, all of the characters play a significant role in elevating this story beyond my expectations. Whether cruel or kind, each of the individuals Adunni comes across is critical to making this a multi-faceted narrative, each contributing to the underlying commentary on the social norms and barriers that shape her path. Daré often introduces some of these characters in pairs – each a foil to the other’s outstanding qualities and in turn personifying the continual interplay between oppression and hope. Besides constructing a fascinating lens through which to assess these characters, this dynamic helped provide relief during some of the most heartbreaking plot points, leaving the readers and Adunni with hope for the light at the end of the tunnel.
I am hard-pressed to find a part of this book that I did not enjoy, however, it should be noted that this is not an easy book to read. It is not the writing style or pace – both are phenomenal in my opinion – but the content can be heavy. I had to take breaks and even picked up a fantasy series to read alongside it, just to maintain a reasonable balance in my reading. That is not to deter you from picking up this book – but I do wish I had a bit of a warning before I started.
I would recommend The Girl with the Louding Voice to anyone who enjoys an eye-opening coming-of-age tale that is unafraid to dissect and examine the painful. This book is special and it’s so important. Educational, thought-provoking, and utterly poignant – it will take you on an emotional journey that you will not forget. Let me know what you think in the comments below!