The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Dare, is a powerfully unforgettable story about Adunni, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl who wants nothing more than to go to school and become a teacher. Her mother encourages her to continue with her education and find not just her voice but her “louding voice”. Adunni’s life becomes hard and arduous after her mother’s death when her father, who is in need of money for himself and her brothers to survive, “sells” her to a much older man to be his third wife. What follows is a life of abuse and misery and a discontinuation of her schooling. Throughout her journey, she encounters people who want to keep her in her place and harm her, and others who help lift her up and move her towards her life goal. The themes in this book are heavy, yet Adunni’s childlike knowledge about the world, optimism, and quest for a better life, cause the reader to root for her at every turn.
The book is written from Adunni’s voice and authentically written in broken English. I was worried this would distract me from the story, but once I found the rhythm of the dialect, I grew to enjoy it. Depending on where I was (at home or in my car), I read the physical book AND listened to the audiobook. Listening to the audiobook was amazing!! The audiobook reader, Adjoa Andoh, put so much expression into her voice, making me truly feel Adunni’s pain and joy.
The Girl with the Louding Voice is heart wrenching and inspiring and utterly beautiful, and throughout the book, Adunni’s spirit is a shining light. As Adunni grows through her experiences and in her beliefs, she embraces the good that comes her way, incorporating that into her powerful being. Adunni states, “My mama say education will give me a voice. I want more than just a voice, Ms. Tia. I want a louding voice. I want to enter a room and people will hear me even before I open my mouth to be speaking. I want to live in this life and help many people so that when I grow old and die, I will still be living through the people I am helping." If you love a book that will break your heart, then stitch it up again, this is the book for you. I highly recommend The Girl with the Louding Voice, with memorable characters that will stay with you long after you have read the last page.