This is a novel that profoundly affected me, as Blessing told her life story. From a world of privilege and luxury, she and her family are thrust suddenly into a life of wretched poverty and horror. The water and air are polluted from the oil companty's plant, the crops wither and die, and as a result, hunger and malnourisment--in one of the richest agricultural parts of Africa--are constant. Both of Blessing's grandparents are educated--her grandfather is a petroleum engineer, but has never found work in his field...despite the oil company almost in his backyard. All engineering jobs are filled by white men from American and Great Britain; local blacks are given "ghost jobs" (a desk, a computer, and no real work to do). Blessing's grandmother is a midwife, and well educated in sanitation and medicine. Had she been a white woman, she would probably be an OB/GYN doctor. She teaches Blessing the work of a midwife, and this work is what gives Blessing strength to endure the relentless poverty and terror they all live in. Teenage boys are given guns by the oil companies, who also employ "Kill and Go" police, and the villagers live in terror of them.
This book has a great deal to say about the politics of oil, of weapons, and of food. It's a hard story to read, in many places, as you realize how people are being destroyed, physically and psychologically, by these politics. It's a powerful message.