Narrated by Weruche Opia
I started this book with no prior imagination of what I was going to get. The first thing that hit me was the narration. The lead protagonist is supposed to be a radio show host with a melodious voice that keeps the listeners hooked on the thing she says. The narrator brought her to life in ways that I could have never anticipated. It was a gorgeous listening experience (except for a few romantic scenes that I skipped because it seemed a little too intimate to hear out loud, but that was a tiny section).
I have not read a book with a focus on Nigerian immigrants (with a few other countries also included) and their lives and the lives of the first generation British children in the contemporary world.
Kiki Banjo has had a hard childhood and an even more complicated end to her school life. That is not the first thing we find out about her, though. It is that she prefers to be emotionally unattached. As she gently tries to break up with the person she has been ‘seeing’, she runs into a new face outside. This starts a chain of events she is powerless to control. It leads to a fake dating scheme that definitely does not stay in that box.
The story is more than the emotional connection between two people. It is about friendship and what that entails. The friends have each other’s back. This is something that is iterated multiple times over the course of the story without it seeming out of place. The culture at the college and its impacts are discussed at length. For the most part, we are restricted to the non-white section of the college crowd, which does not seem out of place for the angles the narrative takes. It is about Kiki and the life she and others like her have to carve out from the status quo. College life, with all its pitfalls and joys, is quite extensively discussed throughout the story.
Money and the lack thereof make fleeting entries into the story but do not form the foundation for relationships or friendships. It is a very believable narrative, and I am very surprised that it is not rated higher on Goodreads. The major factor (I think) could be that as I listened to it, I ‘heard’ it the way the author intended. Since I was previously unaware of some of the more serious discussions amongst the characters, it may not have been as impactful if I had read it in my own voice.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own listening experience.