About the book
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré is the unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself. It is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams.
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"Books were my path to personal freedom. I learned to read at age 3 and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi."
That was a quote from Oprah on reading. Reading is one of the best things we can do in our day because it expands our horizons and introduces us to new thoughts and ideas. So in each episode of the We Should All Be Bookworms Podcast, we build our reading habit by taking a quick look at a page-turning, magnetic, universally appealing book that once you start reading, you won’t want to put down. I’m your host, Mykella, a budding novelist and a bonafide bookworm. And today, we’re talking about The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré.
The Girl with the Louding Voice is the unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself. It is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams.
So join me today as we preview this story. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just finished reading your 33rd book so far this year, or you can’t even remember the last time you read a book — this podcast is for you. In fact, if we can change the world one book at a time, then we should all be bookworms.
WHY THIS BOOK
I wanted to choose a book in honor of women’s history month – which was LAST month. I selected a book and wrote the episode… but I didn’t publish because I changed my mind after I started reading The Girl With The Louding Voice. I was about 2 chapters into it when I said to myself, nope – forget the other one. I have to talk about this book now.
The other book is a great book too – a classic – one of my all-time favorites. But we’ll save that for another time.
Right now, I want you to go read The Girl with the Louding Voice as soon as you can.
One of the things I love about this book is the voice – it’s so distinct that you really feel as if you’re talking with the heroine, that she’s a real, live, breathing person. And that’s one of the major goals of an author – to make their characters feel real. Ms. Daré did an excellent job with developing character in this story. The heroine, whose name is Adunni, will linger in your thoughts long after you put the book down.
But it’s not just the voice. The story is also gripping. It’s heartbreaking at times. But it’s also encouraging and hopeful. You are disgusted with the depravity of human nature at many points while reading this story. But in the end, you are in awe of the amazing potential that lies within each and every one of us – the potential to both help ourselves and help each other in seemingly impossible circumstances.
The Girl with the Louding Voice tells the story of Adunni, the only daughter of a rural Nigerian family. She is 14 years old and she has two brothers, one older and one younger. She has one goal in life, to get enough schooling by whatever means necessary so that she can be a teacher when she grows up. Her mother supported this goal wholeheartedly. As the primary breadwinner for the family, her mother sacrificed and saved every penny so that her daughter could go to school.
But when the story starts, her mother has just died. Again – her mother was the primary breadwinner. And now with her gone, they’re running out of money and food. Adunni’s father decides to accept a bride price for Adunni from a much older man. This man has other wives and children, but he has no sons. And he wants a fresh, young wife to bear him a son. So he offers a big sum of money to Adunni’s father.
Adunni begs her father not to do this. She reminds him of the promise he made to her mother on her mother’s deathbed that he wouldn’t do this. But in his mind, it is the only way to get enough money to keep himself and his sons from starving.
At this point, Adunni believes that her dreams of being a teacher are over. Instead, she’s going to bear child after child after child and be stuck in a loveless marriage – her voice silenced forever.
So far this story probably sounds like its set long in the past. Based on the above description alone, I would have guessed – 1950’s maybe?
But no. This story is set in TODAY’S time. The mid-2000s. And here we have a young Nigerian child sold into marriage instead of sent off to school.
I should note that while child marriage was made illegal in Nigeria through the 2003 Child Rights Act, it is still widely practiced. And in many areas of the country girls as young as 12 years old will be sold into marriage this year. In fact, Nigeria has the highest number of child marriages in West Africa. I didn’t know child marriage was still such a big thing around the world. And I’m so thankful to the author, Ms. Dare for writing The Girl with the Louding Voice and shining such a big spotlight on the horror of this practice through Adunni’s journey.
However, child marriage is only – thankfully - a small part of Adunni’s journey. Somehow (read to the book to find out how) she escapes and makes it to the big, modern, shining city of Lagos where she hopes to find her voice again.
But here she lands in another sticky web of exploitation. Slavery. Yes – Ms. Dare shows us that slavery is still a huge deal in our world. Adunni escapes marriage only to be trapped in servitude to an abusive, wealthy family determined to stamp out any trace of a voice within her. When her voice is almost gone, it is the kindness of a stranger that helps rekindle it.
The Girl with the Louding Voice was born with a loud voice, she had dreams that were nurtured from childhood by a loving mother. And then she was a thrust into a world, and culture, and system – a modern-day world and culture and system - that is expertly designed to suppress the voices of girls. Adunni finds herself in multiple situations where either physical or psychological death is inevitable. She survives because she is lucky enough to find 1 or 2 or 3 people along the way who SEE her – really SEE the light, however dim, inside her- and are concerned enough to help save her voice.
And that’s why I really, really, really want you to read this book. Precisely because it is most definitely NOT a pick yourself up by your bootstraps story. It is a story that illustrates in painful ways how disgusting we humans are to each other – and the results of our selfish acts, and also at the same time shows us how amazing we can be towards each other - and how much better everything turns out when we choose to act out of love – even towards a stranger.
The Girl with the Louding Voice will take the average reader about 6 hours to read. That means if you read for at least 30 minutes a day, you should be able to finish this book in about 12 days, which is less than 2 weeks.
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That’s all for this episode. Thank you for listening. And always, always, always make time in your schedule to read. Because of you, we can be one book closer to a better world.