Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Imagine This - Sade Adeniran - OT challenge - Nigeria

Imagine This by Sade Adeniran
Published by SW Books
Cover artwork by Jonathan Guy-Gladding (Jag)
My rating 5/5

This is the second book for my Orbis Terrarum Challenge and it is set in Africa. It is one of the best d├ębut novels I have read; I was gripped from the first page to the last.

Lola Ogunwole and her brother, Adebole, were born to Nigerian parents in London in the late 1960s. Abandoned by their mother, they
are taken into foster care and live happily with a family in Kent until 1977, when their father suddenly takes them to live in Nigeria. Imagine This is Lola's journal account of her life there from the age of nine to nineteen.

The journal starts with the nine year-old Lola's arrival in her father's home village of Idogun. She is left among relatives she has never heard of before; she cannot speak their language and knows nothing of their culture; she is separated from her brother, who has been sent to live in a different village; she is unwanted and unloved and spends the n
ext ten years moving between unwelcoming relatives.

The contrast between her life in Nigeria and her early childhood in England is stark: she has to become accustomed to living with no sanitation, to getting up at dawn to fetch water before going to school, to living in a society where beatings and starvation are accepted punishments for children. Dreadful things happen to Lola but it is not a depressing book. Her family and friends may be blind to her qualities but the girl revealed through her journal is loveable, funny and, above all, full of courage and hope.

It is a compelling book, I read late into the night because I desperately wanted to know how she would get out of each seemingly impossible situation. It also gives a fascinating insight into a very different culture: we learn about rural and city life in Nigeria in the 1970s and '80s as Lola moves between the village and Lagos. Her experiences are set within the context of great political and social unrest in Nigeria, with political coups, civil uprisings, corruption and murders.

I recommend this book highly and feel very lucky to have a signed copy. I look forward to reading much more from Sade Adeniran.

10 comments:

  1. Glad you enjoyed this as much as I did, M. It was quite different from anything I'd read before and quite unforgettable. I read it months ago but I still find myself thinking about her and marvelling at her steadfast spirit.

    (It must all be feeling a bit quiet at Random Mansions now?)

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  2. I think I might have first seen it mentioned among your Musings, J, although my aged brain easily forgets and confuses such things!

    Random Mansions is indeed a lonely place this evening. All the chicks have flown and all I have left to remind me of their visit is a mountain of ironing!!

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  3. Shame you don't live closer, M, or I could sneak a couple of hundred items of my own into your ironing mountain and hope you wouldn't notice!

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  4. From a new blog-hopping addict:

    I've just read Half of a Yellow Sun, so I'm interested in your recommendation for Imagine This. I often read books by foreign writers so I could do the 9-book challenge pretty easily, I reckon.

    Enjoyed your Lorna Doone photos.

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  5. Welcome, Susie. I think this is the first of many good books to look out for from Sade Adenirin.

    I've always resisted book challenges but this one isn't at all restrictive. I look forward to seeing your choices.

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  6. Susie - if you order Imagine This direct from Sade's website, rather than from Amazon, she will sign your copy for you: http://www.sades-world.com/

    (Sorry, M, for hijacking your blog for a moment there!)

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  7. Any time, J! That is how I got my signed copy and I have remembered that I did get the link from you. One day you too will grow older and forget things!

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  8. sorry, who are you? where am I? what's a link?

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