Amethyst’s 2017 Holiday Reads.

It truly is a season to be jolly and  grateful.

The holidays here in Nigeria are usually exciting. It’s exciting because we have the Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year celebrations. I don’t have to spend this Christmas on campus finishing a semester. One of my rewards for the end of productive, well attended semester was getting books. For other reasons like my insatiable love of reading I have holiday reads!!

These are What I Am Reading this holiday.

A. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okpranta.

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“Watching her walk away that night, I felt more happiness than I had felt in a long time. If I could have sped up the hands of time, I would have done so, so that next week would be tomorrow”.

“With a man, life is difficult. Without a man, life is even more difficult. Take it from me”.

Those quoted parts of the book stood out to me. The first quote perfectly illustrates Ijeoma’s love for Ndidi while the latter depicts Mama’s view about the necessity of Ijeoma getting married. I must say I haven’t read a book with this many chapters, seventy-seven of them! The initial chapters of the book focused on Ijeoma, the main character’s childhood on the Biafran side during the Nigerian Civil War. I liked this because I was yet to read a none political narrative about this side of the historic war.

She loses her father during a raid on their home in Ojoto, Aba. Mama and her leave the village and she goes to become a housegirl at her late father’s friend house. There she meets Amina, falls in love and is caught as a lesbian. Mama who had settled somewhere else came to take her away.

Through out the book we see Ijeoma struggle with her sexuality, Christianity and responsibilities as a female. She later falls in love with Ndidi, finds a lesbian community and self loathes herself.  After an inhumane burning of some homosexuals. She reluctantly dates her childhood friend then marries him. Ijeoma is hunted about her abominable sexuality and struggles to be a good wife to Chibundu. Inability to get preganant or have a male child put a strain on their marriage that breaks the couple apart.

“My point is that business is the reason for things like doctrines. Business is the reason for words like ‘abomination’. The church is the oldest and most susuccessful business known to man”.

These were Chibundu’s comforting words to Ijeoma who was worried her child would have disabilities as a result of her past ‘sins’.  The narrative echoes many unanswered questions of mine about the Bible’s point of view on homosexuality. Showing how inhumane, disapproving and scary these views truly are. I found the many chapters were Mama drummed in these views into Ijeoma discomforting. Sadly I knew it’s something many Nigerians would do. It’s an apt depiction of the issues Nigerian homosexuals face. It’s also a stunning coming of age novel. I was delighted when Ijeoma finally realised it was her life to live. I loved this book set in one of my state of origins, Abia State. It’s already part of my library.

B. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

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This novel is dramatic! It perfectly depicted the antagonistic drama one finds in a polygamous home. A reader can, only chant ‘poor Bolanle’ while reading this revealing story. Lola Shoneyin’s classic is truly filled with secrets and well titled. This novel was a colorful companion during hours of road travel across Cross River during my vacation tour of the state last week.

What I found profound about this book is that each woman had her sad tale of irrelevance, humiliation, struggle that seemed to end with their marriage to Baba Segi. A triumph Bolanle’s presumed barreness threatened to destroy. I admired various qualities of all the characters. Bolanle, the university graduate who marries Ishola Alao aka, Baba Segi to escape an emptiness of self caused by rape is the heroine. She faces opposition, hostility, mistreatment, verbal abuse and even assault from other wives. These wives are Iya Segi, the first wife and frog, Iya Tope, the aponda and second wife and Iya Femi, the selfish beauty and third wife. There were the children and other minor characters.

Major themes of this book are infertility, infidelity, secrecy, antagonism. I found a few interesting ironies. Such as, ‘Baba Segi’s big testicles were empty and without seed’. Also he regularly ‘pounded his wives’ with his surprisingly large penis but all his wives felt sex with their lovers were better. Teacher, Baba Segi’s trusted confidant and advisor in the end ill advised him so he could patronize his establishment. All the wives disliked that Bolanle had something they had desired for a long time, which was education.

This novel paints how people’s antagonism can spring up not only from malice but from insecurities, or hidden agendas. A lesson I learnt earlier in life. I loved the book and the fact that Bolanle found herelf.

C. The Small Print by Abimbola Dare

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Honestly I haven’t finished reading this ebook. I had waited for Roving Heights to have it back in stock. Then I saw a post on the author’s instagram page. that showed I could get her books on Okadabooks. I bought the ebook quarter the price of its paperback. Grinning with excitement I started reading the inspirational romance with a mustard top wrapped around my dripping freshly washed hair.

I must say the way the novel started quiupped my curiosity beyond measure. I felt Wale’s anxiety, worry and determination. As the story progressed I met other characters like obsessive Andrea Jennifer Lennox, beautiful Sade, irritating Bode William, determined Eniola and other characters who help shape the progressing narrative.

The novel has themes of tempted faith, infertility, infidelity, quest for independence, deceit. I’ll admit many things some characters did upset me but I love how the narrative inserts relatable words of God. It’s been a while I have read an ininspirational romance. The plot twists and conflicts are just brilliant!

D.The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi by Chinedu Achebe

I saw this ebook advertised on Okadabooks’ instagram page with an intriguing description. Talk about a written reality show of a Nigerian family. I had to add it to my reading list.

E. Men of Valor by Kiru Taye

Men of Valor is made up of Book 1,2 and 3 by best-selling romance author Kiru Taye. I have looked for how to purchase this collection in Naira. I finally have! Men of Valor is an historic African romance series. If you loved A Woman In Her Prime, Joys of Motherhood, Things Fall Apart, you’ll love this genre also. I have read praising reviews of Kiru Taye’s writing. She writes heart warming romance and steamy erotic scenes. I read her scintillating Thighs Fall Apart erotic fan fiction of Things Fall Apart. I got it on Okadabooks for N899.

Dramatic Family Classics, Historical African Romance, Coming of Age Gay Romance, Inspirational Romance. I think I’m set to end 2017 reading enclosed in the finest of Nigerian literature.

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