My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My first 5 star read of 2023 🤩
It took me 5 days to read The Girl with the Louding Voice and that is because I was admitted to hospital for surgery on the day I started reading it and finished it the night before I was discharged. If I had read it while I was in tip-top shape it would have taken me no more than 2 days to finish it because this is a phenomenal read.
Right off the bat I fell in love with Adunni’s voice. Her dialect of broken English adds authenticity to the tale and gives the story a unique narrative voice. Thinking back on the set books I studied for English in high school, there were books with characters who spoke broken English, but other than A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe, I don’t remember any of them 😐
This debut novel by Abi Daré is the unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself and for girls like her.
“That day, I tell myself that even if I am not getting anything in this life, I will go to school. I will finish my primary and secondary and university schooling and become teacher because I don’t just want to be having any kind voice… I want a louding voice.”
The education of the girl child is one of the main themes in this book and it tugged at my heartstrings as it reminded me so much of how my mother would urge my sister and I to do well in our studies as our education would be our empowerment.
“My mama say education will give me a voice. I want more than just a voice, Ms. Tia. I want a louding voice.”
My mum used to say that she stayed in her marriage for her children. She did not have an education beyond high school and so she was entirely financially dependent on her husband for everything. A man who was extremely emotionally, financially, verbally and physically abusive towards her. I say it as a joke that my mum’s favourite word was empowered, but I am also not joking. If I had a dollar for every time my mum told me, “Lwile you must be empowered enough so that if a man ever treats you like this you can leave without difficulty”… Which is why she was big on education. If empowered was my mum’s favourite word, education was a close second. Her lack of education was directly related to her lack of empowerment. I used to joke that the only thing my mum could read without her spectacles were my tees with naughty scripts and report cards. Lol.
But, I digress.
Other major themes in the book are: the patriarchy, gender inequality, child marriage, poverty, modern day slavery, women economic empowerment, just to name a few. All themes are told through Adunni’s experiences with them as she is met with many hardships, including physical and sexual abuse, making the book hard to read at times, but also making her triumph even more triumphant. A lot of people in Adunni’s life were horrible to her, but she also had some wonderful people on her side, my favourite being Ms. Tia. I want to be besties with Ms. Tia 😍👯♀️
I will end my review with some of my favourite quotes from the book that I think capture its themes quite succinctly and hopefully will inspire you to read The Girl with the Louding Voice if you haven’t already:
I want to ask, to scream, why are the women in Nigeria seem to be suffering for everything more than the men?
At first I wasn’t understanding him, but now it is not too much a problem. Everybody in the whole world be speaking different. Big Madam, Ms. Tia, Kofi, Abu, even me, Adunni. We all be speaking different because we all are having different growing-up life, but we can all be understanding each other if we just take the time to listen well.
Now I know that speaking good English is not the measure of intelligent mind and sharp brain. English is only a language, like Yoruba and Igbo and Hausa. Nothing about it is so special, nothing about it makes anybody have sense.
Why she is calling her abroad peoples white and black when colours are for crayons and pencils and things. I know that not everybody is having the same colour of skin in Nigeria, even me and Kayus and Born-boy didn’t have same skin colour, but nobody is calling anybody black or white, everybody is just calling us by our name: Adunni. Kayus. Born-boy. That’s all.
View all my reviews
** A guide to ratings **
1 star – did not like it
2 stars – it was okay
3 stars – liked it
4 stars – really liked it
5 stars – it was amazing