When their mother catches their father with another woman, 12-year-old Blessing and her 14-year-old brother, Ezikiel, are forced to leave their comfortable home in Lagos for the village of Warri in the Niger Delta to live with their mother’s family. Without running water or electricity, Warri is at first a nightmare for Blessing. Her mother is gone all day and works suspiciously late into the night to pay the children’s school fees. Her brother, once a promising student, seems to be falling increasingly under the influence of a group of violent local teenage boys calling themselves freedom fighters. Her grandfather, a kind if misguided man, is trying on Islam as his new religion of choice and is even considering the possibility of bringing in a second wife.
But Blessing’s grandmother, wise and practical, soon becomes a beloved mentor, teaching Blessing the ways of the midwife in rural Nigeria. Blessing is exposed to the horrors of genital mutilation and the devastation wrought on the environment by British and American oil companies. As Warri comes to feel like home, Blessing becomes increasingly aware of the threats to its safety, both from its unshakable but dangerous traditions and from the relentless carelessness of the modern world. Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away is the witty and beautifully written story of one family’s attempt to survive a new life they could never have imagined, struggling to find a deeper sense of identity along the way.
©2011 Christie Watson (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“An excellent novel. It takes the reader deep into the reality of ordinary life in Nigeria and is also funny, moving, and politically alert.” (Giles Foden, award-winning author of The Last King of Scotland)
so i've been listening to this as i roam around sewing... and i keep hoping it will, so to speak, get a life. but it's not, so i need to hunt down another audiobook.
i deeply dislike books where it's all narrative, where nothing is left to the reader's imagination, and this book is a very clear example of that. we are told exactly what happens, what the significance of things are, and how to feel about it (in an emotionally intense scene, people will be gripping things until they draw blood or laughing, to let you know how you're supposed to feel).
i can never pinpoint what the necessary empty space for the reader should be, and i feel bad about that... it's a negative space, defined only by the things around it. when there's too many things, there's no negative space, and that's the best i can say.
re: the audiobook version. this is where the book goes from just kind of boring to downright annoying. the book's narrator is a 12-year-old girl; the book's reader has apparently conflated "child narrator" with "read as if to a group of children at storytime." you know that voice: "my EYES were as biiiiiig as PUMPkins!!!!!!" like that. big, big mistake.
urk. can't take any more. good thing Audible allows returns.
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