According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “the prevalence of child marriage is the percentage of women 20-24 old who were married or in a union before 18 years of age”. Did you know Nigeria has the 11th highest child marriage prevalence rate internationally? Or that 44% of girls are married before their 18th birthday? And 18% are married before 15 years of age in Nigeria? These statistics are devastating and unacceptable. Why are girls still treated like a commodity? In 2020, why are these numbers not near 0%? Girls should freely inhabit the world, pave their path and at least receive an education. It is astonishing to me the daily indignities woman endure universally. Abi Dare’s debut novel The Girl With The Louding Voice nicely depicts these indignities. I underwent an emotional rollercoaster while reading this book – outrage, anxiety, melancholy, and joy.

The book centers on Adunni, a bold 14-year-old girl from a rural town in Nigeria who lives with her two brothers and father. Even with Adunni’s hard work, the impoverished family is barely surviving from day to day. Her mother, who is dead, had only one wish for her daughter – obtain an education. As a result, Adunni desperately wants to fulfill this wish, or as she states, “I tell myself that even if I am not getting anything in this life, I will go to school. I will finish my primary and secondary and university schooling and become teacher because I don’t just want to be having any kind voice…I want a louding voice”. Unfortunately, her father has other plans for her. She was sold into marriage, becoming a third wife to an older man to relieve the family’s economic distress—my first outrage, which of course, heightened as the story progressed.

As the novel continues, Adunni struggles with her new life and experiences many traumatic situations. After these traumas, she finds herself in Lagos as a housemaid for a wealthy woman. Her treatment in this new household was painful and inhumane. My eyes were filled with tears in this section of the book because of her life’s misery. It is incredible how Adunni refused to let her challenging encounters make her despondent; she used them as motivation. As a reader, how can you not root for her? She never deters from her dreams as she maneuvers through many difficult and dangerous situations while at the same time making great friends and powerful enemies in her journey. She is courageous, intelligent, precocious, and warm with firm morals.

This book made me feel an array of emotions, and for that, I loved it. Adunni’s resilience and wonderful character are admiring. Even though this book is sad, it is inspiring with an uplifting end. It is a must read!

What book last left you with inspiration?

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