Hello everyone! This is me hoping you finished a book even though this month was pretty short. On the bright side, we got 29 days instead of the usual 28 days so, small victory.
This month I read Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan. I picked this book because I thought the title a little interesting. A few friends have also read it and say it is a good enough book so I thought, “Why not?”
Say You’re One of Them is a collection of 4 short stories all from the perspectives of young people in violent, dysfunctional, far-from ideal life situations. The first story, An Ex-Mas Feast, tells the story of 8-year old Jigana whose family in extreme poverty. His 12-year old sister was forced into prostitution because, poverty, and was able to provide for Jigana to go to school. Jigana is deeply affected by this and chooses to run away with the hope that his sister will leave her line of work.
The second story, “Fattening for Gabon” is about Kotchikpa and Yewa who live with their uncle Fofo Kpee after their parents contracted AIDS and became very sickly. Fofo Kpee made a deal with Big Guy to sell his niece and nephew into slavery but attempts to run away with them when guilt threatens to consume him. He doesn’t get very far and is murdered after his attempt to escape. Kotchikpa and Yewa are then imprisoned in their own home in preparation for their trip to Gabon but Kotchikpa manages to escape
“What Language is That” is the shortest of the five stories. It’s about two little girls growing up in Ethiopia. Both from two different religious backgrounds (Christian and Muslim), one day the best friends were no longer allowed to play together because of their religious differences.
“Luxurious Hearses” is the only story I like in the entire book. The protagonist, Jubril, is forced to leave Northern Nigeria for Southern Nigeria during the civil war. The only way out is a luxurious bus and Jubril has to keep his identity as a Northerner hidden to save his skin in a bus full of Southerners. Jubril (a staunch muslim) somehow manages to get through being in close proximity with so many women, he is bullied into giving up his seat by a “Chief”, avoids the television as much as possible all the while hiding his accent and his stump of a left hand. Jubril unknowingly blows his cover when an image of a burning mosque appears on the TV screen he managed to avoid for so long. Jubril weeps and makes to wipe his face with his stump. He’s taken out of the bus and murdered.
“My Parents’ Bedroom” is about a 9 nine year old during the Rwandan genocide. Her mother leaves her one-year old brother in her care while she is away. That night a mob led by her uncle shows up at their house in search of her father and rapes the girl. The following night the mob returns and forces Papa to kill Maman because she is Tutsi. He does this then leaves the house without his children. The little girl leaves the house as well, not knowing where to go. The story ends with her house in flames and her knowing all the Tutsi people her parents had tried to keep safe in the attic had been killed.
One major theme in all five stories is the senselessness of hate and violence, crimes against children (and humanity in general). But in trying to develop some of the stories, the author got me plenty confused with language in “Ex-mas Feast” and “Fattening for Gabon”. The last two stories were a lot easier to read.
I found this book very tedious to read. It took a long while for the stories to build up and take shape (except for “What Language is That?” which was very brief) and had me wondering, “When is this book finishing?”
The author handled serious themes in the book but lost me early with long, tedious, unnecessary dialogue and details. When it comes to fiction, I’m all for: if it helps us understand your characters better then throw it in. If not, please keep the ornamental paragraphs.
Was the author successful in carrying out the overall purposes of the book? The entire book was a tedious journey. Some people would say the author had game but none I was interested in
Would you recommend this book to others? Not at all.
My recommendations for this month are:
- Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth – Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares (because, start-up life)
- We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Adichie (because, short and very necessary read)
- I Laugh At These Skinny Girls – Tolu Akinyemi (because, not every time story sometimes poetry)
Dont forget you only have to read one book.
Before we get to your reviews I’m glad to announce that we have another partner onboard. The awesome people at Africareeds.com have decided to give all you book lovers 10% discount on any purchase made on their site. All you have to do is use this promo code when checking out: NAKEDCONVOS10. So you see, now you have absolutely no excuse.
Time to hear from you:
What book did you read?
Evaluate and critique the book
Wrap up with the strengths and weaknesses and mention if you would recommend the book to other people
Give a numerical score/rating.
Remember, I will be picking out the best two reviews to receive prizes from Konga.com.
Do you love to READ and WRITE too? Then submit a qualification entry for THE WRITER competition and win big. READ here for details.