Living life with a disability is never easy, and Nnedi Okorafor paints an incredible picture of how difficult her life became after her surgery gone wrong. She was destined to be the next star athlete, the next best doctor. But being paralyzed was never a part of her plan.
In Broken Places & Outer Spaces (TED Books), Nnedi uses imagery to create a beautiful portrait of her struggles throughout her life. With her family being from Africa and also being the first African-American family in her neighborhood, she endured countless moments of racism and bigotry. Nnedi shows exactly how she is one of the strongest people, despite the problems had to endure. Nnedi took her experiences and made them benefit her in any way she could. There was nothing else she could do but fight back with all her strength and show that she was better than the bullies in her path.
The best part about this book is that it is entirely raw and emotional. Nnedi does not hold back from expressing exactly how she felt in the most difficult moments. She talks about her anger, hurt, and confusion. You can feel her emotions radiate right out of the page.
Nnedi has to go through something that not everyone has to experience. She went in for routine surgery and came out with a worse problem than she had. Going from having scoliosis to being paralyzed seems like an awful trade-off, but Nnedi was able to keep hold of what little optimism she had left in order to persevere.
Her words helped me to feel whatever she was feeling. Her hallucinations were brought to life so easily that I felt as if bugs were crawling all over me. Though this book is short, it is filled with intense pieces of imagery and there is never a lull in the story. Nnedi keeps the reader engaged in her writing because she needs people to hear her story (as everyone should). Every sentence is just as important as the last, just as sweet as the last.
Nnedi’s love for her culture radiated through her words, as well. There was never a moment where I doubted that she loved Nigeria and that she loved visiting there. Nnedi’s passion and determination were so easy to feel because of how easily her words flowed together.
This story of pure perseverance is something that everyone should read. I felt as if I could do anything if I set my mind to it when I finally put the book down. Nnedi is truly an inspiration to all and her story is one that everyone should have the chance to read.
Nnedi Okorafor is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Born in the United States to two Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled “Weapons of Mass Creation,” The New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination “stunning.”