Title: Speak No Evil
Author: Uzodinma Iweala
Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 215
Niru is gay and when his conservative Nigerian-American parents find out, his life falls apart and he’s put through conversion therapy by his furious father. His best friend Meredith is unwittingly the reason he’s outed and after he comes back from being ‘cured’ and having people lay hands on him they start to drift apart. The first part of the book is all about Niru and his struggles with his sexuality, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to see how his mom and dad (especially his dad) treat him.
It feels so raw and real and I hated his dad so much, but he was also a believable and multi-faceted character. The second part of the book is narrated by Meredith as she returns to her home city of Washington D.C. and reminisces about the tragedy that changed her life forever. I didn’t like this part nearly as much as the first one, and I didn’t think the two sections were completely cohesive. I found myself wishing Niru’s story had gone in an entirely different direction, the tragic event is a little bit contrived and it didn’t feel like the ‘right’ way to end it.
Meredith wasn’t as memorable as Niru, and I wished the book had focused entirely on him instead. The best thing about this book is it’s beautifully written- the prose is easy to read but it flows like poetry. There are so many excerpts I wanted to write down in a notebook because they were so captivating. I thought this book better than Beasts of No Nation (by the same author) even though I liked both. You really get a sense that he’s really grown as a writer and I’m interested in seeing what he’ll come up with next.
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