Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Of course I'm thrilled to treat myself and spend my Waterstones gift card - have you seen this book? It is beautiful! I'm just excited to see that the book is as beautiful as the cover design. I had been anticipating it's release since reading about it as a book to watch in The New Yorker - I'm very happy it was added to my TBR and promptly bought once I set my sights on it.
Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”—the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni's father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir.
As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.
But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. And when she realises that she must stand up not only for herself, but for other girls, for the ones who came before her and were lost, and for the next girls, who will inevitably follow; she finds the resolve to speak, however she can—in a whisper, in song, in broken English—until she is heard.
Before you make an assumption from the synopsis, the broken English is very easy to get used to and in no way is distracting. I was fully immersed by Adunni's life and storytelling within the first few pages. She is an inspiring character - she seeks out a life that not only is so out of reach to her usual circumstances, but also a life she will not have known others to experience themselves. Adunni's determination to go to school and improve her English speaks volumes for the way many young girls in impoverished countries must feel. She wishes to defy her friends and family, and speak out of turn as she doesn't want what is decided for her.
There is much to learn in this novel about a continued culture of treating women a certain way and treating men very differently. Adunni's whole life is decided for her - she is sold, to be married, continually abused by one of her husbands new wives, and is subjected to a continuous obligation to sex with her (much older) husband to produce a male baby - all before she is an adult. All of this happens due to her father selling her. The book fully grasps the desperation felt, and how this is an expected part of the culture and not out of the ordinary. I truly adored the writing style in this book. I was taken aback that it wasn't just Adunni's dialogue that was broken; the entire book was written in this way as it was entirely from her perspective. It felt like an extra layer of immersion included by Daré that I thought was quite genius!
There were many eccentricities to this novel that made it very special and memorable. I particularly loved that in Adunni's quest to educate herself where she could, she ended up reading a book of facts about Nigeria, and including a fact at the beginning of the majoirty of the chapters for the reader. It was charming and added to the layers of the cultural impact of the book. And if you like a cheeky fact like me, reading these facts was something I continuously looked forward to in my reading experience. Whether you are looking for something different, or just a heartfelt and beautifully told story, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a debut novel you should add to your list. It has been added to my favourites pile where it will be firmly staying.
Initial Prediction: 5 stars
Final Rating: 5 stars
Publication Date: 4 February 2020 (my edition: 5 March 2020)
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
# of Pages: 320