13419252I stumbled upon this book unexpectedly. If you have been reading this blog, then you know that I visit my local bookstore, Chapters indigo, quite often. I discovered this book, one of those days. I didn’t know much about the author, but  that was not relevant. If it’s written by an african author, then I must read it. I used african here to describe any person of African descent.

About the author

Yejide Kilanke was born in October 1975 in Ibadan, south-western Nigeria. She is currently living in Chatham, Ontario with her family. Yejide holds two bachelors, one  in Political Science from the University of Ibadan and one in Social Work from the University of Victoria. She subsequently earns a Master of Social Work from the University of Windsor. She is currently working as  a therapist in children’s mental health. Her novel, Daughters who walked the path, was nominated as a top-ten pick for the Giller Prize’s Readers Choice Award and for the Globe and Mail Reader’s picks for best books of 2012. Yejide is currently working on her second novel titled – When Land Spirits Cross Big Waters – It is set to be released in Spring 2014. And honestly, I can’t wait to get my hand on it.

About the novel

The principal character of this novel is Morayo, a young Yoruba girl leaving in Ibadan, Nigeria with her family. The book started with the birth of Morayo’s younger sister Eniayo. From that point on, we go through all the stages of Morayo’s life. Her growing up with her immediate and extended family, her school and University years and finally her life  in the working place. Now you may think that there is nothing special about this story. It  all sounds like a normal story. Think again.

First of all, the little sister  is an albino. This is the first time I am reading a novel where one of the characters is albino. Now the issue of albinism is very huge in Africa. Unfortunately, it has not received enough attention from the authorities and civil societies group. Don’t get me wrong, some NGO’s are working really hard and  movies are made to raise awareness. You see, depending on the country where you are, albinos are either killed or persecuted. For example, in East Africa, they are killed and their body parts are used for their supposedly magical powers, and  in West Africa, they are believed to be  wicked spirits of some sorts. In the case of Eniayo, she was protected by her family and her sister. People taunted her but since she had the support of her family, things were more bearable in her case.

Secondly, Morayo, young, beautiful and intelligent, is growing up  surrounded by school friends and family. One of her cousin, right from the beginning of the novel, stands up for his wickedness. Indeed Morayo’s cousin Tayo, known as  Bros T, is a very selfish and troubled young man. It is explained that his mother spoilt him a lot. Bros T was part of the family, he used to spent a lot of time in Morayo’s house during his youth. He, finally, moves in with the family when he was on his last secondary year. Bros T is very charming, but  some clues in the novel prepares the reader to his evil acts later on. He sexually abused his cousin’s Morayo, he threatened her sister and blackmailed her into accepting . When the matter is brought to Morayo’s parents, all hell break loose. Now, at this point of the story, what is interesting is the reaction of people when they get to hear the news.The mother is stricken by grief and guilt. And unfortunately she don’t know how to react or what to do. Communication between African parents and their children is really bizarre sometimes. Her father is mad , it is not clear at who. No one would speak of the matter with Morayo. The silence in the house is oppressive especially when Eniayo is sent to boarding school. You got this impression that Morayo is being punished for something that was not her fault. At that point, Aunty Morenike, herself victim of rape when she was fifteen, will help Morayo get through her ordeal. Morenike’s story is quite different from Morayo’s. In her case, she was shield by her mother  and she also had her grandmother on her side. It is clearly shown in this novel that what is important for the victims is their family’s support. Both Morenike and Morayo was able to continue their lives, go to school and get a job.

In the background of the story, interesting things are happening – Corruption, harassment in the workplace and used of doubtful methods of business, the army preying on the innocent people they are supposed to protect, breast cancer and  the stark differences between the super rich and poor Nigerian. Last but not least, tribal differences and intermarriage was also discussed in the novel.

I am a helpless romantic. So I am truly happy to inform you that there is a love story in this novel. yay! I don’t want to give  out much on this, but there is a wedding at the end. -)

Did you read this novel? What did you think? Drop us a comment or  email us at utneemtree@gmail.com