Eniola spends his days running errands for the local tailor, collecting newspapers, begging when he must, dreaming of a big future. Wuraola is a golden girl, the perfect child of a wealthy family. Now an exhausted young doctor in her first year of practice, she is beloved by Kunle, the volatile son of an ascendant politician. When a local politician takes an interest in Eniola and sudden violence shatters a family party, Wuraola's and Eniola's lives become intertwined.
By the end, the intricacy of the novel’s structure comes to feel both unexpected and inevitable, building toward a final devastating convergence ... The graceful, stately quality of the sentences evokes restraint, avoiding sentimentality ... In one sense, this story line offers little ambiguity; its villains are predictably corrupt, the cruelty of their methods operatic. But Adébáyò humanizes those sucked into the vortex of that power with a striking compassion — the characters’ misjudgments and delusions are deeply and empathetically imagined, wholly alive.
Violence in multiple guises – political, domestic, psychic – simmers beneath the surface of the often restrained prose ... As the protagonists’ stories are ineluctably drawn together, the compassion Adébáyò feels for her two protagonists is deep and her social consciousness commendable. Other elements are more hit and miss. The two leads – understandably – turn in on themselves and become passive because of the pressures of material circumstance. But until the novel’s admittedly explosive final act, this often means that they are held at arm’s length from the reader, encased in fairly repetitive self-reflection and angst ... As a result, some of the peripheral characters steal the show ... It’s a shame that Adébáyò sidelines the curious and exciting 'good things' about her novel.
Set in Osun state in the early 00s, Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s compelling second novel explores the country’s inequalities and contradictions ... This immensely readable novel is a blistering indictment of the abuse of power (political and domestic) and the ubiquitous violence that can destroy lives overnight.