Book club questions for The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré takes a closer look at this moving novel about a girl’s journey to education. There will be spoilers so for more context about the story, check out my spoiler-free review.
I loved this story so much! Let me know what you all thought as well. So I found this great video from the publisher where the author Abi Daré talks about the context behind the story and the importance of an education. I can’t wait to read more from this author.
Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”—the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni’s father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir.
When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option before her is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.
But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. And when she realizes that she must stand up not only for herself, but for other girls, for the ones who came before her and were lost, and for the next girls, who will inevitably follow; she finds the resolve to speak, however she can—in a whisper, in song, in broken English—until she is heard.
Book Club Questions for The Girl with the Louding Voice
- A key section, and really the whole theme about education, occurs on page 24 when Adunni’s mother tells her daughter that because she didn’t have an education, she wasn’t able to marry the love of her life and do what she wanted in life. She says “your schooling is your voice, child.” Adunni becomes determined to obtain schooling and that she didn’t want any kind voice, she wants a “louding voice.” Let’s talk about Adunni’s definition of a louding voice.
- What is your “louding voice?”
- Let’s talk about her desire to become a teacher and help other girls in her village.
- After her mother dies, Adunni’s father forces her to marry and become the third wife of an older man when she’s just 14. Why did her father not honor her mother’s wishes?
- In her new life as a child bride, she first experiences kindness with the second wife Khadiji. Let’s talk about their relationship.
- Everything shifts for Adunni again when Khadiji dies in childbirth. And she must run away or face dire consequences from the village leader. Do you think she’ll ever be able to return to the village?
- What did you think about the descriptions of Lagos? Did you learn anything new about the city and country as a whole through this novel?
- Adunni becomes a house girl but really a slave for a cruel rich couple nicknamed Big Madam and Big Daddy. Why was Big Madam so horrible to Adunni? What was she masking with her cruelty?
- Adunni experiences acts of kindness by Kofi who lets her know about the education opportunity and also with Ms. Tia who helps teach her English. Let’s discuss how these characters became such a vital part of her journey.
- Why do you think Ms. Tia and Adunni shared such a bond? What are some key areas that they learned from each other?
- There’s an interesting scene where Adunni is being kind to Big Madam and is impressed with her success. Big Madam shows a second of humanity when she tells Adunni to never give up on her dreams (page 285). But then she quickly becomes cruel again. Let’s discuss this section.
- No matter how much people try to force her to be quiet, Adunni can never hide her voice. And while she experiences the absolute worst in humanity, she’s always positive. On page 320 after Ms. Tia experiences the abuse from the religious fantaics, she tells Adunni: “you are the bravest girl in the world.” Let’s discuss this.
- The story ends with Adunni getting into the school and leaving behind the cruelty of Big Madam and others. She’s finally free. Let’s talk about the ending.
What to Read Next
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for The Girl With the Louding Voice! Here’s some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum is a devastating, heart-wrenching but also, hopeful, novel about a Palestinian-American family. It also features the theme of wanting an education.
In her debut novel Etaf Rum tells the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women struggling to express their individual desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community—a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.
“Where I come from, we’ve learned to silence ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence will save us. Where I come from, we keep these stories to ourselves. To tell them to the outside world is unheard of—dangerous, the ultimate shame.”
Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.
Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.
But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
If you haven’t read Becoming by Michelle Obama, you definitely need to ASAP! It also features the importance of education.
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.