DAUGHTERS WHO WALK THIS PATH by Yejide Kilanko, 329 pages, $24 paper. Rating: NNN
There's a lot of promise in this debut novel about a spirited girl growing up in Nigeria. Too bad the story feels like it's been rushed to the finish line.
Morayo and sister Eniayo go to school in a small town surrounded by friends and relatives. But when their male cousin Bros T moves in and proves to be a sexual predator, Morayo's life is changed forever. Fortunately, she has a loving aunt who can relate to her experience. But that doesn't make it any easier for her to sort out her feelings about men.
Yejide Kilanko has a lively style - she conveys the profound difference between cultures in Nigeria's small towns and large cities with great skill - and a strong grasp of the material. She understands exactly how male privilege operates, and her account of Morayo's unrestrained promiscuity during her university years rings painfully true.
If she'd stayed with her themes instead of going into so much detail about seemingly unrelated things - Morayo's job at the bank and her fiancé's sister's wedding, for example - the book wouldn't sag in the middle. When Bros T reappears, the story regains its tension.
At the same time, I wanted to learn more about Tiyamiu, a daring politico, and his attempt to unseat a corrupt chieftain. That storyline falls away a bit too quickly.
But by the end, Kilanko is cramming so much into the narrative, you can barely catch your breath. You get the sense that she's jammed it all in because she doesn't believe she'll write another book.
I hope she does.
Kilanko reads as part of the Harbourfront Readings Series at the Brigantine Room Wednesday (April 11).
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