I don’t just want to be having any kind voice . . .
I want a louding voice.
At fourteen, Adunni dreams of getting an education and giving her family a more comfortable home in her small Nigerian village. Instead, Adunni’s father sells her off to become the third wife of an old man. When tragedy strikes in her new home, Adunni flees to the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where she becomes a house-girl to the cruel Big Madam, and prey to Big Madam’s husband. But despite her situation continuously going from bad to worse, Adunni refuses to let herself be silenced. And one day, someone hears her.
As we start a new reading year and try to move forward, we all need to find some hope of brighter days to come. The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abdi Dare is a novel that shines with that very thing we all need right now, hope!
It has been described by others as captivating, sparkling, beautiful and it is indeed all of these and more. It is joyful, often emotional, sometimes a painful read, one that will forever remind us, that where loss and despair reside, hope and the human capacity to strive for better will always exist.
One of the most remarkable things about it, is how Abi Dare has managed to deal with some difficult subjects, yet deliver a novel that captivates both the heart and the soul of the reader. It’s a story about daughters forced into marriage at a young age in a society that undervalues the worth of it’s women, slavery and physical violence. Reading that description, you would be expecting a novel that is heart breaking, yet it is not. For it is a work that celebrates Adunni’s refusal to remain a victim, her bravery and determination to find her own voice amongst the maelstrom of abuse and violence that surrounds her.
Abi Dare gives Adunni a voice that grows as the novel progresses, becoming louder and more determined. As a character traumatised by events in her home village, she progresses her to a young women with a voice and it is that voice which gives the novel it’s heart and its strength. The lead characters determination to not be silenced and to change the path others have forced her to take, to one in which she has control over her destiny, is what makes this story as well as the writing both intensely moving and deeply affecting.
As a character Adunni is warm, brave and resilient in the face of loss and betrayal. The writer never tries to downplay battles she faces, but lifts them up and shines a light on them, so we can see truth and celebrate her search for her louding voice. She writes a narrative that comes from the tradition of issue led novels which spark conversations and bring taboo subjects into the light. It also gives her voice an authentic lilt, broken English at first, for as she says “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”. It is not how Adunni articulates her thoughts which makes her such an amazing character, it is her spirit, the light that shines in the deepest part of her being and how she uses her voice. The narrative takes her from having her words trapped within her chest, scared and subservient to her father, to a character that as she changes and finds her voice, growing with the support of others, shines from the page “the words running bright, a ribbon of fire, of hope”.
The Girl With The Louding Voice was the first book I finished in 2021 and I’m already certain that it will feature in my favourite reads this year!. What a stunning start to any reading year!
You can purchase this novel from Amazon and from Waterstones.
About the author
Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and has lived in the UK for over 18 years. She studied law at the University of Wolverhampton and has an M.Sc. in International Project Management from Glasgow Caledonian University. Keen to improve her writing, Abi completed an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck University of London, achieving a Distinction. Her novel, THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE won The Bath Novel Award in 2018 and was selected as a finalist in The Literary Consultancy Pen Factor competition in 2018. Abi lives in Essex with her husband and two children.