Hi loves, how are y’all doing? Today’s book review is on the incoming novel, “A Good Name” by Canadian-Nigerian poet, author and child mental health therapist, Yejide Kilanko. The novel’s set to be published on the 1st of Dec. 2021 but I had the honour of receiving an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) on NetGalley from the publishers, Guernica Editions, in exchange for an honest review. So here goes…
A Good Name is a story that features the main character, thirty-seven-year-old Eziafakaego Okereke, who has been living in America for the past twelve years. Disappointed to find that his first class degree in Engineering is of no use to him in America, he moves from Minnesota to Houston after securing a job as a cab driver. Upon several demands from his mother, Eziafa reluctantly decides it’s time to settle and start a family of his own even when his pockets are not ready. After his mom rejected Eziafa’s initial choice of a potential bride—the twenty-six-year-old Jovita Asika, a Nigerian-American who is more of a free-spirited, confident modern woman—on the premise that her ancestors are “thieves” where she comes from in Nigeria, Eziafa decides to go back home to accept a bride picked by his mother whom he can mold to his own taste.
Well fortunately for eighteen-year-old Zinachidi Nwoye’s poverty-stricken family and unfortunately for her, she’s the bride Eziafa finally settles on after meeting and interviewing over twelve women handpicked by his mother and sister, Evelyn. Zina wants to go to the University; she does not want to get married to an ugly man with a bald head who will take her to America leaving behind her village lover, Ndu. But her family will hear nothing of her plea. Zina will marry Eziafa, go to America and save them all from the trenches of poverty threatening to swallow them whole. School can wait. This is how Zina and Eziafa’s tumultous married life begin.
I must say that I really enjoyed this novel. This is my first read from the author and it was nothing short of splendid. I just love how easy the book is to read. Right from the start, it grabs your attention and keeps you locked till the end. The dialogues are beautifully crafted, so much so well that you can’t help being drawn into every conversation in the book. For me, the dialogues made this story what it was and to be able to pull that off successfully is not an easy thing to do, so thumbs up to Yejide Kilanko. The story doesn’t drag; every page has something for you. My only disappointment is with the ending which I did not really like because I found it a bit too abrupt and jarring. It was definitely not the ending I expected but what can I say?
It’s unfortunate how family or societal expectations and cultural beliefs can really be binding and choking sometimes when we don’t learn to take charge of our own lives. Eziafa’s biggest problem in this novel was trying to fulfill his family’s every demand, especially his mother’s. He was not living life for himself but for others. This translated into his marriage with Zina as well. He literally forced the marriage down her throat, forcing his will and burdensome expectations on her to the point where she couldn’t take it anymore. In the beginning the same can be said of Zina too until America put some wind under her sails and she wanted to fly but it was too late because Eziafa needed her down, where he could trample on.
The African community can and should do better. What happened to these two innocent people could have been avoided. Honestly, people should be allowed to make their own choices in life. The meddling is too much and it gets on my nerves! Even in books, I always find myself screaming at characters when they forfeit their desires for the happiness of others. It’s something I don’t see myself doing and I can neither stand those who do it nor those who give in! I’m happy Yejide brought this out in the novel so hopefully when people see the bizarre consequences of forced expectations, maybe, just maybe they might do differently.
I think the main themes of the novel are family expectations, cultural norms, immigration, emotional abuse and domestic violence. But other themes such as politics and a bit of racism are touched on in there.
I seriously recommend that you buy and read this book when it comes out or preorder your copy if you’re a lover of contemporary literary fiction. You will love it for sure. I rate this book a 4.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 out of 5 stars. Thank you NetGalley and publisher, Guernica Editions for the ARC. I enjoyed every bit of the reading experience.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed this. I’ll see you soon with another review. Bye. Love ❤️, Liz.