As soon as I saw this book’s beautiful cover and read the blurb, I knew I wanted to read Yinka, where is your huzband by Lizzie Damiola Blackburn. Luckily, I had won the book in an Instagram giveaway at the beginning of the year. So, I finally started it last month, and while it took a minute to draw me in, the story had my full attention once it did.
The novel centers on Yinka, a 31-year-old Oxford-educated British-Nigerian woman searching for a man. The story begins with Yinka’s cousin Racheal announcing her engagement, and this prompts Yinka to initiate “operation wedding date: my plan to have a date for Racheal’s wedding.” In the process of trying to find her wedding date, she concocts wild plans and takes outrageous actions to succeed in her mission to find her “plus one.” Meanwhile, Yinka’s Nigerian aunties and mom are relentless in pestering her about singledom in the background. The novel touches on colorism, dating, family dynamics, friendships, marriage, Nigerian culture, religion, self-love, and therapy.
This book is written from Yinka’s perspective, and it’s light, fun, but a bit predictable. The story strongly resonated with me even though the plot is a tad cliche (i.e., a girl hunting for a boy). As a 30-something-year-old Nigerian woman who’s experienced the modern dating scene, I understood the pressure that Yinka was receiving from her family. Its weight and constant presence can be suffocating. Yinka says, “since I was young, I’ve been an overachiever… this served me well in my education and career, and so naturally, I had faith that I’d find love and marry one day too”.
But, reader, this begs the question, what is wrong with being single? Singledom allows you the opportunity to find yourself and become secure with who you are. Such a chance to self-reflect and find confidence in your inherent worth is a crucial phase. However, people frequently waste this time on other things, external points of reference, hoping to define themselves through the “accomplishments’ societal pressures have ingrained in us to seek. While it is important to find romantic love, self-love and self-discovery are vital for your well-being. In All about love, bell hooks declared, “self-love is the foundation of our loving practice”. Essentially, the love you pour into yourself will enhance all your other relationships.
But, I digress, reader, back to the book.
While Yinka’s antics are exasperating and messy, and you frequently wonder if she is genuinely in her 30s, I felt for her. Based on her chaotic escapades, I can understand why some readers would not be a fan of Yinka. But quite honestly, navigating the dating world is complex, and at times it leaves you questioning many things. One of the things I loved about the book was Yinka’s growth; by the end, you can hear her voice, and she stands in her truth, either with her singleness, religious beliefs, and career path. The strongest aspect of this book is how the author brings to light the delicate theme of internalized racism within the Black community. Here is an excellent quote from the book illustrating this, when her therapist says, “You see, this belief you have, that you’re not beautiful enough. It’s not a fact, it’s a by-product of your life experience. And Black history. You’ve heard of colorism?…It’s been dividing our people for generations. And do you know the sad thing is? It has made our people believe this lie-that the closer one is to being white, the better one is”. Here the author nudges the reader to consider the importance of self-acceptance.
There were some things about this book that I disliked. While I appreciated how Blackburn infused Nigerian culture throughout the story, I found these additions trying and sometimes redundant. Furthermore, as the novel progressed, the author spent too much explaining every cultural reference disrupting the storyline’s natural flow. If you are going to be bold and use another language, own it. But, in general, there was too much over-explanation of the Black experience, which was a bit frustrating because it implied that I and any other Black readers were not, in fact, the author’s targeted audience.
I was also not a fan of the different narrative devices the author used in the book, such as texts, emails, and voicemails. While including these mediums of communication may have made the novel feel modern, I found it distracting.
If you are looking for an entertaining, quick read about self-discovery, this is your book reader!
So, have you read it yet? Thoughts?