The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré – Review
By Emma Stamp
This debut novel by Nigerian-born, Essex-based Abi Daré is a powerful and emotional story which highlights the continuing issue of domestic slavery in Africa.
The book centres around a young Nigerian women, Adunni, whose father illegally sells her into marriage at the age of just 14. Later sold again as a servant into an abusive household in Lagos, Adunni continues to fight for her dream of education – to become the titular ‘girl with the louding voice’. This dream, to be able to speak for herself and decide her own future, allows her to overcome the many hardships that are thrown her way.
The book is written in broken English, or as the author calls it “Adduni’s English”. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but after the first few chapters you hardly notice the wording and fall into the rhythm of her language. Indeed, sometimes the invented English can be rather funny, bringing a sense of light-heartedness to otherwise sad or profound moments: “Big Madams face is full of all sorts of makeups, be like she melt a rainbow, wipe it on her face”.
“Virtually impossible to put down”
Written in the first person, we gain an insight into Adunni’s own thoughts and how she views the world. The author highlights her courage and determination which become both inspiring and heart-warming as the book neatly shifts to cover the class and gender struggles in present day Nigeria.
Adunni is traded by her father, abused by her husband, sold by her male ‘friend’ and the male in the house she works for is an ever-present threat. The majority of the upper-class women do not help either, poking fun at Adunni or beating her. Whilst the book may cover a number of distressing issues, it is still virtually impossible to put down. Adunni is easy to root for, but the poetic prose and mix of action and intrigue is engrossing.
The Girl With The Louding Voice tackles a number of heavy issues, such as young girls forced into marriage illegally, the continuing problem of modern day slavery in Nigeria and how there are many young women who are struggling to be heard – but it also reveals how important it is that we listen and how hope and hard work can still achieve wonders.
The book has already won a clutch of awards – and Abi Daré is a compelling new voice in the literary landscape.
‘The Girl With the Louding Voice’ by Abi Daré is published by Hodder & Stoughton, £12.99 hardback