I’ve been away for a while but I’M BACK!!! I do hope that you missed me. Well there’s no need to panic because I’m here to stay.
To kick off this adventure, I have reviewed a book that I recently read from Nigerian author Tina Okpara. Enjoy and see you very soon.
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Editor: Michel Lafon
Publisher: Amalion Publishing
Price: £14.95 Tina Okpara’s “My life has a Price
A memoir of survival and freedom”, is based on Tina’s personal story of abuse and torture at the hands of her adoptive family, during her early teenage years. This story is a direct account of Tina’s memories and there are no details spared. The book begins with the author in the midst of running away from her persecutors [Rain is falling. My tears are too…My heart tells me to run…], which immediately sets the tone for this vivid recollection of awful events to come. The book’s first chapter is full of tension and immediately sets the reader’s heart racing, as Tina’s escape plan is partially foiled by a neighbour, [“Help me for goodness’s sake, help me…I cannot help you Tina.”].
Unfortunately this tension disappears after the first chapter, only to resurface much later in book, when Tina is told by her adoptive mother Linda Okpara that [“You’re stupid! You think they take dunces at school?”], but the intensity experienced in the story telling from the first chapter never really returns. After the book’s fifth chapter, the reader is taken rapidly through a series of events, including another failed escape attempt [“Linda turns her pit bull face to me…why did you run away?…are you not treated well here?”] and then into the even darker sides of Tina’s abuse which include sexual abuse from her step father Godwin Okpara [“He made me think that he loved me like a father and he raped me!”] and genital mutilation courtesy of her adoptive mother [“I am going to mark you forever…twice she puts the sharp blade on my vagina”], who believes that this is a fit punishment after witnessing her husband raping their adoptive daughter.
This book paints painfully vivid pictures of Tina’s experience, but in doing so, readers may feel that the way in which the author has chosen to recount her awful experience, makes the entire book feel more like a court witness statement or a stream of consciousness, than a story being told. Especially, when the author addresses the reader whilst describing horrific events, she asks us if [“are you keeping up with me”]. However, some readers may feel that being treated like they are witnessing Tina’s experience first hand, brings them closer to the author.
“My Life Has a Price”, is only 186 pages long and I felt that although Tina’s recollection of the horrors she went through, is hard-hitting, the story telling feels slightly rushed and under developed. For example, the book ends with Tina escaping from her tormentors and seeing them put behind bars, but I was anxious for the author to open up more about how she felt, rather than just tell us the facts about what had happened to her.
Readers will enjoy this honest and direct account of the author’s experience, but the storytelling in this book needs improving, in order for the reader to really get to know the author, rather than just experience the events that defined her situation.