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The Girl with the Louding Voice: A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick

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The Girl with the Louding Voice: A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick by Abi Dare

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By Abi Dare

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7 reviews

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Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education.

As the only daughter of a broke father, she is a valuable commodity. Removed from school and sold as a third wife to an old man, Adunni’s life amounts to this: four goats, two bags of rice, some chickens and a new TV. When unspeakable tragedy swiftly strikes in her new home, she is secretly sold as a domestic servant to a household in the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where no one will talk about the strange disappearance of her predecessor, Rebecca. No one but Adunni…

As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless servant, fourteen-year-old Adunni is repeatedly told that she is nothing. But Adunni won’t be silenced. She is determined to find her voice – in a whisper, in song, in broken English – until she can speak for herself, for the girls like Rebecca who came before, and for all the girls who will follow.

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Reviews

01 Aug 2022

It took awhile to get into it but as I progressed through the book I couldn’t put it down. It’s not my usual type of book but I’m so glad that I read it. It has made me very thankful about my life. Definitely worth a read.

28 Jul 2022

Donna May

St Just Thursday Evening Reading Group 7th July 2022.

The Girl with the Louding Voice. Abi Daré.

This book was very much appreciated by the readers, as being a courageous account of the multiple abusive experiences of a young girl from a poor family; a compelling story; an insight into the social and political systems of Nigeria; and a way of seeing the issues of misogyny in this country too. “A well written book which is as much a history lesson as it is a novel.”

Adunni was very much admired for her determination to fulfil her mother’s last wishes by having a proper education and living the life she wanted. Being forcibly married at age 14 to a much older man was one of her first obstacles; and this was followed by other sorrows and tragedies, some of them particular to the culture in which she was living. When she escaped to Lagos several readers were sure she was about to be sold into prostitution; this turned out not to be the case, but instead she was trapped in servitude to a tyrannical and abusive master and mistress. She received help from the cook in this household, and from an influential woman who was a friend of the mistress, and eventually Adunni was selected for a scholarship and returns to education, as she wanted.

It is “all too easy to accept that Adunni’s life accurately illustrates the lives of countless young women around the globe”. Faced with the weight of tradition and the embedded expectations of the roles of women, Adunni is seen as speaking for all the other young women in her position. "I want a louding voice. I want to enter a room and people will hear me even before I open my mouth to be speaking".

The story was told in an inspirational and very convincing way - “Some of the situations are so well described I feel the author has either been on the receiving end or able to closely observe the behaviour.” The characters were “very well described and colourful”, particularly Adunni, also her father who appeared as a lazy good-for-nothing who relied on his late wife to provide an income, and her employers Madam, who abused her female staff out of frustration with her own situation, and Big Daddy, who tried to take advantage of them all whilst contributing nothing to the household (Nigerian men don’t seem to come out of this narrative very well!)

Further comments were that the ‘Facts’, given at the beginning of chapters, was seen as a good way of educating the reader about the situation in Nigeria; and that readers would love a sequel, catching up with what Adunni did when she got to college and afterwards. Several people also commented on Adunni’s empathy towards Madam, her employer, which was very moving and indicated great maturity of character on Adunni’s part. Most readers also commented that the book reflected quite badly on modern Nigeria, and gave them no wish whatever to visit it. An engaging book, with a good title!

This book was read during June 2022 and the continuing restrictions due to the Covid-19 virus, and so the discussion was not 'live' as usual, but took place via a Facebook group, email and telephone conversations.

02 Sep 2021

A wonderful inspiring novel. A young Nigerian girl's journey to become a teacher.
Written in dialect that gradually changes as she nears her goal.
I would recommend it because it tells a story of triumph over adversity.

03 Aug 2021

Avrilsreads

What a powerful, inspiring story! I loved the writing style

03 Aug 2021

I have had this on my holiday reading list for a while and couldn't wait to read it. It took me a day of sitting around in the sun. I was immediately captured by Adunni's voice and story. I loved the way it was written (although I recognise that some might find it more challenging) in her Nigerian accent/voice. I had heard a snippet of it read by an actress, Adjoa Andoh, and therefore had her reading it out loud in my head.

The story is of Adunni, a a child bride who just wanted to stay on at school and learn to be a teacher. It takes us through her life in rural poverty, being married off to a man who already had 2 wives to Lagos and its polar opposite of extreme wealth, and Adunni as a modern slave. Throughout the book there is hope for Adunni to make it but she is subject to all kinds of mental, emotional and physical violence from male and female characters. But she also encounters humanity and kindness and warmth from women and men who hear her and help her move towards her dream.

I would recommend this to all readers. It is moving and challenging but worth the journey.

18 Jun 2021

ASilverwood

I love everything about this book, the title, the narrator, the love between the female characters and read it in virtually one sitting. Adunni is an amazing character and I was desperate to know how things would turn out for her. There is violence in this book but it is always necessary to the storyline and not gratuitous. I really hope that the author writes a sequel to this novel.

30 Apr 2021

A fascinating book. The 'dialect' it's written in takes a while to get used to (a bit like when first delving into Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha). What emerges is a story both shocking and uplifting, and a tribute to the strength of the human spirit. Not an easy read but one that should be read. This is one of those books when you read it you can understand why it has so many awards!

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