Education equals louding voice, which in turn will enable Adunni to make decisions and speak for herself. It’s what her mother always told her, but her mother is dead and Adunni has taken her place in the family. With a family to feed and rent to pay Adunni becomes the only commodity her father has, so he sells her to a local man. A third wife to be, her dreams wither and die.
Things come to a head and fourteen-year-old Adunni runs away and ends up in the hands of a scrupulous criminal who sells her into servitude. There she again works as an unpaid skivvy and is mistreated by her mistress. No matter where she turns there seems to be the same result.
At first she doesn’t question the girls who have trodden in her footsteps before her, but there is something about the last girl that doesn’t quite sit right. What really happened to Rebecca and is there something or someone Adunni should be afraid of?
One of the saddest and most poignant moments in the book is when you realise that the story of Adunni isn’t set in the past. It’s set in modern day Nigeria, and because of that it is absolutely heartbreaking. Her status as a girl means living as the subservient daughter, the obedient wife and lastly as the servant who is treated worse than a stray dog. Such is the life of her gender. No power, no choice and no voice.
I loved the use of language as a tool to show progress and oppression in the same breath. Daré keeps the entire story on the level of the teenage girl, and yet it simultaneously screams out the unfairness of the adulthood which has been forced upon her.
It’s a contemporary cultural read – a strong reminder of the stark contrast of life for women outside of the high walls of Western civilisation.