The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré

This week I finished reading Abi Daré’s bestseller The Girl With The Louding Voice.

Blurb on the back:

As a third wife in a small Nigerian village, fourteen-year-old Adunni is expected to fade into silence. But Adunni will not keep quiet. She’s smart, funny and curious, with an infectiously joyful spirit. And despite adversity awaiting her at every turn, she’s set on getting an education, no matter the cost. Determined not to settle for her fate, Adunni embarks on a journey from her village to the wealthy enclaves of Lagos. A journey that will change her life and, if you listen closely, possibly yours…

Published two years ago in 2020, here’s what reviewers have said:

The story told in this novel is an important one. The trauma of girls forced into marriage and the blight of domestic slavery in Nigeria are both issues that must be brought to light. As Adunni wonders: “Why are the women in Nigeria seem to be suffering for everything more than the men?” The Girl With the Louding Voice joins a long and fine tradition of issue-led novels that have sparked conversations resulting in social change. Social justice is a laudable intention when writing a novel, yet one also reads them for subtler and less concrete gains.

The Guardian

(T)he plot takes our protagonist on a whirlwind tour of the various horrors — pregnancy-related death, an inhuman criminal justice system, child sex trafficking, grueling labor and violence both physical and psychological — that millions of Nigerian girls face, and for which, Daré suggests, education is the only escape. Adunni nurtures her dream of becoming a teacher by sneaking into an employer’s library to read, and enlists a sympathetic neighbor to coach her for a scholarship application. Throughout her harrowing coming-of-age journey, told with verve and compassion, Adunni never loses the “louding voice” that makes Daré’s story, and her protagonist, so unforgettable.

The New York Times

The genius of The Girl With A Louding Voice in its use of ‘non-standard’ English is that, though all the rules around language structure, syntax, lexical and grammatical features et cetera are broken, readers from anyway in the world can read the book to understand. Whilst it is initially difficult to grasp this unique way of writing,  a few pages into the book a liight bulb does switch on. It then becomes easier as the book progresses to comprehend the content and context of the novel. We see here how language is used as a result of need. Adunni the character becomes real within the nuisances of her lived experiences. After putting down this book the reader would want to meet Adunni in real life, that is how believable she is!

Afrika Is Woke

Adunni’s story is harrowing, which is why, I think, it took me a couple of weeks to read; I couldn’t face all her trials and tribulations every day. Although this is a work of fiction, The Girl With The Louding Voice has opened my eyes to the reality that many young girls face in Nigeria. Daré even includes facts about Nigeria throughout the book, almost like footnotes, which help the reader to put Adunni’s story into context. Did you know, for example, that in Nigeria child marriage was made illegal in 2003, but still an estimated 17% of girls are married before the age of fifteen. Nigeria is also the most populous country in Africa.

Here’s the author talking about the book:

Another book set in Nigeria that I read recently was My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, which I highly recommend!

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