The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré (Dutton) is a special book; a powerful story of a young girl with hopes and dreams and bravery beyond her years. Adunni is an optimistic, kind-hearted 14-year-old. Before her mother died, she instilled in her the importance of education and Adunni took it to heart. Her father went against her mother’s wishes and sold her off to be the third wife to an old man in the village, just so he could get money for rent. All Adunni wants is for her mother to be alive and to go to school, yet she finds herself trapped in abusive relationships. Her new husband and his other wives show her little kindness, have no interest in looking out for her, and she suffers abuse, but she never stops striving to be heard.
“My mama say education will give me a voice. I want more than just a voice. I want a louding voice, I want to enter a room and people will hear me even before I open my mouth to be speaking. I want to live in this life and help many people so that when I grow old and die, I will still be living through the people I am helping. If I can go to school and become a teacher, then I can collect my salary and maybe even build my own school and be teaching the girls. The girls in my village don’t have much chance for school. I want to change that, because those girls, they will grow up and born many more great people to make Nigeria even more better than now.”
Adunni escapes her husband and his wives and ventures to the big city of Lagos where she becomes a housemaid to a wealthy family. Beaten and continually told she is worthless, Adunni perseveres, trying to give herself education by studying The Big Book of Nigerian Facts. She never gives up hope, standing up for herself and the young girls that came before her, while hoping to help and teach those that will come after.
Fortunately, Adunni meets someone who takes an interest in helping her and providing her with the opportunity to achieve her goals.
“Why is this woman so kind to me? What can she see in me when even me, I am not seeing anything in myself sometimes?”
The future is bright for this young Nigerian teenager despite the fact that she has seen and been a part of more than her share of poverty, abuse, corruption and negligence. Although her voice has been muffled at times, she keeps fighting back to be heard, any way she can.
To write The Girl With the Louding Voice, Daré immersed herself in Adunni’s head, creating a dialect she imagined the young girl used to communicate. Although the language was more primitive, it does not represent Adunni’s intelligence or impede her wishes to be heard. With aspirations beyond marriage and children, getting an education in order to teach and help others is her priority, and over time, Adunni’s voice becomes loud and clear and unforgettable.
“I am Adunni. A person important enough because my tomorrow will be better than today.”
Powerful, inspiring and insightful, Daré touches on cultural attitudes toward women, class differences, and family struggles.
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