The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré is such an extraordinary work of fiction. What a story.
I don’t tend to cry when I read books. Sure, they will definitely have an impact on me but I don’t get too emotional compared to other mediums (show me the end of Endgame and I’m a mess). Well, The Girl With the Louding Voice broke that trend—it features one of the best endings I’ve read.
Oftentimes, authors say that writing the ending is one of the hardest parts of working on a book. And many endings do miss the mark. Think about how many stories you’ve read where the ending is a disappointment. But I’m telling you The Girl with the Louding Voice ends so well! I literally had a huge smile on my face and thought to myself, “this is a novel that everyone should read.”
This is an inspirational story about the importance of access to education for all and never giving up on your dreams.
The story follows Adunni, a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who wants an education. Her mother told her that an education 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.
Adunni is such a compelling protagonist. The reader is first introduced to her English voice and you just immediately want the best for her. I loved her passion and dedication to wanting to obtain an education so eventually she could become a teacher and help out other girls in her village. Education is a right not a privilege and it should never be taken for granted like some people seem to do in places like the U.S.
I knew this could be a sad read and I was so worried for Adunni’s safety. I was a bit afraid that the sections where she’s a child bride would be too horrifying to read and continue with the story. It is so awful but I will say the author really handled those areas with care and respect. It never got too graphic but it did showcase the tragedy of taking a way a girl’s right to freedom. I was so relieved when Adunni does run away and the story really takes off from there.
The story centers on Adunni’s yearning for an education and we get to witness her learning more English during her journey. The reader also gets an education about Nigeria. Each chapter begins with facts from Nigeria. And while the book cited for the facts is fiction, the author said the facts about Nigeria gathered in this book are all available online.
There are certain books that are so important for readers that go beyond just an entertaining read. These kind of stories both provide an education and also really give perspective of someone’s point of view that you never would get without reading. I think it’s absolutely vital to read stories by authors of different races and genders—don’t stay within your own bubble. The publishing industry needs to put more stories like The Girl With the Louding Voice out in public.
I’m really glad that Jenna Bush Hager of the Today Show chose this novel as a Read with Jenna pick. I’m going to write a story soon looking at all the celebrity book clubs and I have to say Jenna’s picks have been fantastic. These book clubs really do help evaluate novels to a much wider audience as well.
This is a wonderful pick for book clubs. Check out my discussion questions here.