THE LAST DAYS AT FORCADOS HIGH SCHOOL BY A.H MOHAMMED
”Efua said nothing and Nene continued, feeling desolate. ‘I’m very , very,sorry and I understand if you hate me now, but I’ll never give up on our friendship.’ She stood up and twisted her hands.’
‘He suddenly thought: ‘you stood up for me and I didn’t do that for you, and his eye filled up.’
Wow! This novella was a short yet surprisingly sweet and emotional read. I thought of my secondary school experience. This is the main reason I procrastinated reading the book. Gosh! I dragged it onnn, regrettably. I really admire the book art that highlight the beginning of each chapter. An exciting, coming of age novella of the Nigerian teenage experience. It’s honest with characters you will like only to discover you love at the end.
The plot twists with Jimi relationship with his brother Wole, Efua’s past, Forcados and its students were stunning. The double climax with Efua’s school embarrassment and Lab robbery were ingenious. I loved how it focused on the main characters and subtly showed how their parents and environment largely influenced them. Also, I liked the upsetting but truthful depiction of how Nigerian secondary school students react to ‘scandalous!’ LGBTQIA relations amongst themselves. The narrative had a few unpleasant but important surprises. I loved how Jimi Solade’s flaw as the hero was naivety. A young man dealt a lot of blows intermittently by life within his last days as a senior. Efua Coker could be mistaken for the villain, but is really an amazing anti-hero.
Themes of friendship and betrayal ran through the novella. These boldly emphasize the values of family and friendship. This also reminded me of how loved ones can act when hurt, jealous or frightened. I found Jimi to be the more likable brother but felt grave sympathy for irredeemable Wole. Their father blamed their mother for having ‘bad children’, instead of communicating and connecting with his sons. This made me angry and sad because the average Nigerian would make such a statement yet be poor parent. The behaviors of temperamental Mr and indulgent Mrs Solade to Wole were on opposing extremes which wasn’t helpful. One investing time, guidance, love, values and not just money makes one a positively impacting parent.
Expressing admiration is often misconstrued as subtle flirting. Forgetting intimacy isn’t always for lovers, it becomes scandalous, forbidden, embarrassing when two females are intimate. Efua ignoring boys’ interests and requests made it easier for her letter to be misunderstood. It sadly contributed to her humiliation by other students. I did not like that this discrimination occurs in real life either. The environment was as vivid as its characters were real. Settings; the time, psychological and geographical settings of this novella added a warm, life-like quality to this story. Sometimes I was standing at the sandy assembly ground of my secondary school or leaning in between buildings at Forcados High School.
Although it is a material for Joint Admissions & Matriculation Board(JAMB) and Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination(UTME). I highly recommend this novella with three bursts of fireworks!