The Girl with the Louding Voice was written for the 130 million young girls out of school because of gender discrimination and poverty. Adunni lives in a small Nigerian village where poverty is rife and a young girls bride price is a lucrative commodity. Her mother made her father promise before she passed not to marry Adunni off and to get her an education, but his dire finances lead him to make other decisions. Adunni is quickly sold at just fourteen years of age to a local taxi driver with two wives and four girls, with the expectation she will bring a boy into their family. While living with this family something goes terribly wrong and Adunni is once again displaced. It is here we truly see Adunni’s full potential both tested, and realised, on her journey to finding her louding voice.
This book deals with some weighty themes like child marriage and child labour, as well as sexual and physical abuse. But it is mostly a tale of resilience. And Adunni is a shining light through out this book, consistently providing us with comic relief through her young child like mind. This story is truly about overcoming obstacles as Adunni sets out to follow her dream to receive an education so she can speak and be heard. For herself, and for other girls like her, who are born into poverty and marginalised communities.
Abi Daré was raised by her single mother in Lagos, Nigeria, where she witnessed first hand what a difference an education can make to a women’s life in being able to support herself and her family. Daré herself was instilled with immense pride in receiving an education and saw it as a pathway for opening doors. It was during a conversation with her daughter about unloading the dishwasher that she was inspired by the contrast in privilege from what she saw growing up in Lagos. Here the families in her neighbourhood had young girls as maids from outside villages, they were not well treated, and denied an education, and it is for these girls that she decided to write this story and shine a light on this unfair disadvantage.
Daré’s intent to educate us as the reader is apparent through out the book. From the writing in broken English, which very cleverly creates a rich insight into Adunni’s learning mind and the feeling that you are learning alongside her. To, half way through the book where facts about Nigeria are introduced which, if you are like myself and turns out you have very little knowledge of the country, are incredibly insightful. Some are generally informative, others provide startling revelations of the economic wealth gap between the rich and the poor, and then there are those more directly related to story line: Child marriage was made illegal In 2003 by the Nigerian government. Yet, an estimated 17% of girls in the country, particularly in the northern region of Nigeria, are married before the age of 15.
This is the best kind of fiction in my opinion. It is informative, incredibly readable and will leave you thinking about Adunni and other girls like her for a long time. A must read for anyone looking for a bit of education with their next feel good read.
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