Review: Tomorrow I Become a Woman by Aiwanose Odafen

When Gozie and Obianuju meet in August 1978, it is nothing short of fate. He is the perfect man: charismatic, handsome, Christian, and – most importantly – Igbo. He reminds her of her beloved Uncle Ikenna, her mother’s brother who disappeared fighting in the Civil War that devastated Nigeria less than a decade before. It is why, when Gozie asks her to marry him within months of meeting, she says yes, despite her lingering and uncertain feelings for Akin – a man her mother would never accept, as his tribe fought on the other side of the war. Akin makes her feel heard, understood, intelligent; Gozie makes her heart flutter.

For Uju, the daughter her mother never wanted, marriage would mean the attainment of that long elusive state of womanhood, and something else she has desired all her life – her mother’s approval. All will be well; he is the perfect match, the country will soon be democratic again and the economy is growing, or so she thinks …



Review

Tomorrow I become a Woman by Aiwanose Odafen is one of the most captivating books that I have read in quite a while. I liked the realistic portrayal of themes of marriage, societal and gender expectations, patriarchal values, gender inequality and culture.

Set in Nigeria, the story is narrated in three parts (yesterday, today and tomorrow. It tells the story of Uju, a a young ambitious girl at the University, whose life drastically changes when she falls in love and marries Gozie. What first began as a fairy tale romance quickly turns into an abusive marriage. Although this might seem like a familiar story, I can assure you that its not. One of the things that stood out to me is the role that culture and societal expectations play in keeping women in abusive marriages especially in our African society. There is a dark cloud that follows divorced women around. It seems like some societies would prefer that women remain quietly in abusive marriages than walking out. There is a stigma attached to divorce.

Apart from marriage, another theme that stood out is on children. Its not enough to have children but having boys is preferred. This is a sad reality in most parts of the continent I live in. The themes explored in this story are quite emotional. I was angry, sad, frustrated and quite disappointed at times. Its worse knowing that all these things do happen in reality.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It is quite well – written with relatable, thought-provoking themes that will keep you turning pages to the end. The character development is masterfully done. Whether good or bad, each of the characters stood out as unique and memorable. I absolutely adored this book.

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