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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A READ WITH JENNA TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK!
“Brave, fresh . . . unforgettable.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A celebration of girls who dare to dream.”—Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers (Oprah’s Book Club pick)
Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and recommended by The New York Times, Marie Claire, Vogue, Essence, PopSugar, Daily Mail, Electric Literature, Red, Stylist, Daily Kos, Library Journal, The Everygirl, and Read It Forward!
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, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams. Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same. Her spirited determination to find joy and hope in even the most difficult circumstances imaginable will “break your heart and then put it back together again” (Jenna Bush Hager on The Today Show) even as Adunni shows us how one courageous young girl can inspire us all to reach for our dreams…and maybe even change the world.
1. What do you think Adunni’s comparison of her mother to a rose flower (“a yellow and red and purple rose with shining leafs”) symbolizes? She also remembers her mother having a sweet smell like a rosebush. Why do you think she compares her mother to this particular type of flower? And how do you think our five senses play into our memories?
2. Adunni dreads her upcoming marriage to Morufu, but her friend Enitan is genuinely excited for Adunni, believing that her life will be improved after the wedding. Why do you think there is a disconnect between Adunni’s and Enitan’s points of view? Can you draw any comparisons between cultural attitudes toward marriage in America and Nigeria?
3. Compare and contrast Khadija with the glimpses we get of Adunni’s mother. How were their lives similar or different from one another?
4. Why do you think Bamidele doesn’t return for Khadija? What do you think he whispers in her ear before leaving her for the last time?
5. Why do you think Adunni is closer with Kayus than Born-boy? What is it that makes their sibling bond so deep?
6. Why do you think bathing is such an important symbol in Nigerian folklore and in the novel? Discuss the similarities and differences between the bath that Kadija believes will save her and her baby’s life, and the bath that Ms. Tia’s mother-in-law believes will help her get pregnant.
7. Adunni has dreamed of leaving Ikati and seeing “the big, shining city” of Lagos since she was young, though when she actually arrives it’s not under the circumstances she envisioned. How do you think her perception of the city changes once she is there? And how does her experience of Lagos relate to Big Madam’s or Ms. Tia’s? Compare and contrast the ways all three women view the city and experience the opportunities it offers.
8. Though they have dissimilar personalities, are not close in age, and have lived very different lives by the time they meet, Adunni and Ms. Tia have an instant connection that deepens over time. What do you think it is that drew each of them to the other? How do you think their friendship will evolve after the book is over? Will they continue to be friends even though their worlds seem incompatible?
9. What is the significance of the moment when Ms. Tia turns to look at Adunni right after the bath ceremony is over? Why do you think it affects Adunni so strongly?
10. After Ms. Tia’s bath, Adunni wants “to ask, to scream, why are the women in Nigeria seem to be suffering for everything more than the men?” What specific moments have brought her to this question? What do the events of the book reveal about cultural attitudes toward women?
11. Adunni remembers her mother saying, “Adunni, you must do good for other peoples, even if you are not well, even if the whole world around you is not well.” How do you think this factors into the choices she makes and her dreams for the future?
12. The first time Big Madam hears Adunni singing she slaps her and says, “This is not your village. Here we behave like sane people.” Later, when Adunni is comforting Big Madam after she has forced Big Daddy out of her house, Big Madam wants Adunni to sing to her. Discuss the significance of that moment. Why do you think Big Madam’s attitude toward Adunni’s singing has changed?
13. At first, knowing and reading English is a source of pride for Adunni. But later, she says, “English is only a language, like Yoruba and Igbo and Hausa. Nothing about it is so special, nothing about it makes anybody have sense.” What do you think she means by this?
14. How do you feel about the ending? Do you think it is a happy ending for Adunni? Despite the fact that she gets to follow her dream of returning to school, there are bittersweet moments, too --- she must contend with the fact that she’s left her family behind, her husband might have stopped supporting her family, and the mystery of what happened to Rebecca remains partially unsolved. How do you think these loose ends will affect Adunni as she grows into adulthood?
15. After embarking on this journey with Adunni, what does a “louding voice” mean to you and how does one achieve it? What sort of future do you imagine for Adunni?
Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and has lived in the UK for 18 years. She studied law at the University of Wolverhampton and has an M.Sc. in International Project Management from Glasgow Caledonian University, as well as an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck University of London. THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE won The Bath Novel Award for unpublished manuscripts in 2018 and was also selected as a finalist in 2018 The Literary Consultancy Pen Factor competition. Abi lives in Essex with her husband and two daughters, who inspired her to write her debut novel.