The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare (384 pages)
14-Year-old Adunni Fights to Find her Louding Voice to Forge her Future
“I don’t just want to be having any kind voice …I want a louding voice.” (Dare, pg. 25)
The Girl with the Louding Voice is a coming of age story for 14-year-old Adunni, a girl from a small village in Nigeria, who is keenly aware of what she wants – an education and freedom. Following the death of her mother, she must leave school to care for her father and two brothers.
Shortly after her 14th birthday, Adunni’s father accepts her “bride price”, forcing an abrupt shift from child to adult, girl to woman, care provider to new wife. Grappling with these sudden changes, she faces each day with fierce determination to persevere while keeping her dreams close to her heart – to re-enter school and become a schoolteacher. In keeping with her mother’s advice, it is only through education that Adunni can claim her louding voice and decide her future.
Following the death of one of her husband’s wives, Adunni is forced to flee. She seeks refuge from one of her deceased mother’s friends, who aids her in leaving her village in hopes of finding safety. Adunni is brought to Lagos and sets to start over as a housemaid, yet is faced with new challenges when what looked like freedom becomes a new form of slavery.
Despite brutal and inhumane conditions, Adunni’s spirit won’t be broken. She becomes fastened to her resolve to persevere no matter the cost. Education and freedom are dreams worthy of suffering.
A Coming of Age Story with a Powerful Message of Injustice and Inequality
In her powerful debut novel, Abi Dare’s writing is poignant, emotive, and captivating. The narrative in The Girl with the Louding Voice is unique in its colloquial styling, specifically in Adunni’s voice, where her prose and vernacular reflect her growth in character.
Seeking to inform readers of Nigeria’s history and current landscape, Dare compliments Adunni’s journey with Nigerian facts that underscore key issues related to human rights, trafficking, gender-based violence and role expectations, and political unrest.
These pieces created depth and richness to both Adunni’s experience and to that of the Nigerian people, particularly girls. It illuminated injustices faced by Adunni while also amplifying her strength, resilience, and voice. It required me to get comfortable in the uncomfortable when I was struck by the stark contrasts of my privilege and freedoms.
The Bottom Line: 5/5 Brookie Stars
I truly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it for those seeking works from up and coming authors and works that amplify BIPOC voices. From the first page to the last, I held tears in my eyes and reverence in my heart. In awe of her indelible spirit, I was tethered to her plight, deeply invested in her story, and rooting for her with the very fabric of my soul. Cheering in unison to Dare’s words, “Welcome, Adunni, welcome to your new free.” (Dare, pg, 366)
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Melanie Wagstaff lives with her high school sweetheart (now husband), two children, and cat. Melanie practices social work in child welfare and loves chocolate, hearty laughs, engaging discourse, and the occasional run. Melanie is a voracious reader and believes in the power of knowledge, the written word, and storytelling.
Favourite book: Eek! Just one?! Fave read for 2020: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Favourite brunch spot: My dining room table prepared by my hubby and complemented by fresh food from our local markets.