Chike Ameobi is running away from the army. As he heads towards Lagos he finds himself picking up other runaways, and by the time they reach the city there are five of them, including a nervous woman escaping a bad marriage and a boy desperate to be on the radio. Their arrival coincides with a political scandal: the minister of education has disappeared with a large amount of money. Their attempts to create new lives for themselves and find opportunities leads them to consequences they would never have imagined…
I didn’t know what to expect here. I’d been to an event with the author and really liked her so was excited to delve in, but, with complete prejudice which I repent of totally, I expected this to be very worthy, very intense and probably a little boring. It was anything but. The plot was compelling and fascinating, the characters relatable, their interaction convincing and the setting varied. I felt thoroughly pleased to have read this book, and am this very moment thinking through who I should buy it for.
Onuzo masterfully handles the variety of characters and plots going on at the same time here. We see the story through the different characters; like different windows onto a scene. Together they give a varied and interesting picture of everything that is happening. Each character is convincing in themselves, their worldview, their philosophy; and to do this with such a range of people is impressive indeed.
I thought that I was going to feel alienated by a setting that I have so little of experience of, but I wasn’t at all. Of course, like any fiction book, the world built itself around me and I was immersed. It didn’t overload with setting detail but nevertheless presented a strong sense of place.
And the plot! Gosh, it was great. Just a great example of normal people meet huge world events type plot, with dreams, big decisions, relationships, everything at stake. I don’t want to give anything away because it’s a thoroughly enjoyable adventure in itself.
I’d hugely recommend this book – I’m going to put it on my Christmas list for a few people for sure!