Daughters Who Walk This Path: A Novel Paperback – Apr 10 2012
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“A book that can make you laugh and cry.” - Toronto Star
“Sophisticated and beautiful.” - National Post
“Morayo’s story is universal and women around the world will relate.” - Winnipeg Free Press
About the Author
Yejide Kilanko was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, daughter of a university professor and his wife. She read widely – Wole Soyinka, Lobsang Rampa, Chinua Achebe and Alex Haley- and majored in Political Science at the University of Ibadan before moving to the United States to marry. She attended the University of Victoria, and is now a Child Protection Worker in Canada. She lives in Chatham, Ontario with her husband and children. Daughters Who Walk This Path is her first novel.
Top Customer Reviews
Morayo and Eniayo live a childhood in relative comfort, loved by their mother and adored by their father. Both parents, however, have busy lives and the role of daily attention is handled by the "aunties". They come and go, stay for a while and leave again. The protection in the family also means that Morayo is trusting and cannot detect danger signs early enough. Kilanko heads her chapters with relevant Nigerian proverbs, such as, "The enemy lurks in the courtyard, the evildoer lives in the home" - a thought provoking hint for the chapter that follows.Read more ›
Penguin Group Canada| April 10, 2012| Trade Paperback| ISBN 978-0-14-318611-3
Spirited and intelligent Morayo grows up surrounded by school friends and family in busy modern-day Ibadan, Nigeria. An adoring little sister, their traditional parents, and a host of aunties and cousins make Morayo's home their own. So there's nothing unusual about her charming but troubled cousin Bros T moving in with the family. At first Morayo and her sister are delighted but in her innocence, nothing prepares Morayo for the shameful secret Bros T forces upon her.
Thrust into a web of oppressive silence woven by the adults around her, Morayo must learn to fiercely protect herself and her sister from a legacy of silence many women in Morayo's family share. Only Aunty Morenike - once shielded by her own mother - provides Morayo with a safe home and a sense of female community that sustains her as she grows into a young woman in bustling, politically charged often violent Nigeria.
Morayo was 5-years-old when her baby `albino' sister, Eniayo was born. She was shocked to see that her baby sister was white with pink eyes and she was afraid to hold her for the first time but did so out of respect. This was the very first day that the word "afin" exploded into her world, meaning `albino' and believed to bring bad luck to her entire family. Following Yoruba tradition, Eniayo's naming ceremony was held eight days after her birth. That's when the neighbours began talking: "Where do you think this `afin' child come from?" Another neighbour had said: "I just know that this is not a good thing...these `afin' children, all they do is bring bad luck.Read more ›
The principal character of this novel is Morayo, a young Yoruba girl leaving in Ibadan, Nigeria with her family. The book started with the birth of Morayo’s younger sister Eniayo. From that point on, we go through all the stages of Morayo’s life. Her growing up with her immediate and extended family, her school and University years and finally her life in the working place. Now you may think that there is nothing special about this story. It all sounds like a normal story. Think again.
First of all, the little sister is an albino. This is the first time I am reading a novel where one of the characters is albino. Now the issue of albinism is very huge in Africa. Unfortunately, it has not received enough attention from the authorities and civil societies group. Don’t get me wrong, some NGO’s are working really hard and movies are made to raise awareness. You see, depending on the country where you are, albinos are either killed or persecuted. For example, in East Africa, they are killed and their body parts are used for their supposedly magical powers, and in West Africa, they are believed to be wicked spirits of some sorts. In the case of Eniayo, she was protected by her family and her sister. People taunted her but since she had the support of her family, things were more bearable in her case.
Secondly, Morayo, young, beautiful and intelligent, is growing up surrounded by school friends and family. One of her cousin, right from the beginning of the novel, stands up for his wickedness. Indeed Morayo’s cousin Tayo, known as Bros T, is a very selfish and troubled young man. It is explained that his mother spoilt him a lot. Bros T was part of the family, he used to spent a lot of time in Morayo’s house during his youth.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's hard to make a book about surviving rape sound anything but depressing, but this book is not depressing. Yes, there are depressing scenes. But there is also so much depth and love and forgiveness and passion and strength here, and I don't want you to miss it because you're nervous about one aspect of the book. I was nervous about it, too, but I am very glad I read this one.
Daughters Who Walk This Path is a very honest book. Not only does it show us Morayo's struggles to come to terms with what happened to her, but it shows everyone else's difficulties, too. Her parents are horrified and sickened, but neither of them can find the words to tell Morayo how they feel. Her mother tries, but just can't do it. So instead, her mother enlists the help of a cousin who went through a similar experience and begs her to become a support to Morayo. While it saddened me that Morayo's mother never overcame her own problems enough to help her daughter, I thought it was pretty realistic, and it was good that she found another way to help her daughter. Morayo's friends don't know anything about what happened to her, but they notice their friend acting differently and don't know why she's pulling away. Morayo doesn't tell them. Morayo's younger sister deals with her guilt about not saying anything for so long by studying to become a doctor. And Morayo's aunt Morenike, who went through her own traumatizing experience, works constantly to help heal her niece.
One of the tensest scenes in the book takes place at a bus stop, when armed guards come and harass Morenike in front of many people who can do nothing to help her. Morayo learns that even adult women, educated and clever and strong as her aunt Morenike is, are not safe. It's a stark and terrifying reminder that you can work so hard and do so much good in the world but so much of what might happen to you is not in your control.
What I appreciated about this book was its acceptance of the many different paths that women take to heal and just how long it can take. It's a very personal, internal journey and that was made clear here. Morenike, for example, fell in love with a man but did not marry him because of her own emotional baggage. Morayo slept around with countless men, mostly because she savored the power it gave her - she enjoys feeling like she has the upper hand in these situations after being powerless for so long. One time, though, she goes too far, and her realization that she has become something of a monster, too, was one of the the strongest points in the novel.
I mentioned earlier that this book has much more to it than the heavy nature of a woman struggling to overcome a horrible experience. And it's true. While Morayo's fight is the basis of the book and its most important theme, there is so much else happening. There are bright descriptions of growing up in a small Nigerian town, the joys and pitfalls of having a large family. There is an election with an idealistic young man who wants to change the world going against a corrupt, spiteful chieftain who buys his votes with fear and free food. There's a woman's first taste of independence in college, making new friends and learning so many new things. Morayo's first job - her thrill at getting a paycheck dampened by the sexism she faces there. This novel is so rich with cultural insights and women's issues and Morayo's allusions to feminist African authors and playwrights has added several books to my reading list. Recommended.
This is a novel that deals with oppression on a number of levels. Kilanko's main focus is on a specific form of meta-feminism and the general treatment of women in societies that are still mostly traditional, but it's not the only one. There's a somewhat out-of-place but thematically relevant subplot about local elections, as well as a much more plot-relevant mention of corrupt leadership. Kilanko handles these topics well, though they end up somewhat thinly spread. "Daughters That Walk This Path" feels a bit too cramped, with too many ideas and too many subplots and too many important points that should perhaps have been left to other stories.
Then there's Kilanko's writing. This is a straight-forward style, somewhat childish in its simplistic stiffness. It's easy to read, but it kept me slightly on edge, as though something about it wasn't quite natural. It's the type of writing that carries the story along at just the right pace and in the right form, but doesn't quite breathe the way you'd expect. Generally okay writing, but not particularly good. Similarly Kilanko's characters - they feel a little stiff, but I ultimately found myself rooting for them and caring about them in a way that felt distinctly real.
The reason a reader would (and should) pick up "Daughters Who Walk This Path" is because of its content. Though, as I mentioned, it's a novel that has too much within its pages (and perhaps goes on for far too long, getting a little lost in its new ideas at the end), the bulk of the book is truly powerful. Kilanko does a surprisingly good job with presenting her characters' dilemmas, shame and feelings in a way that feels entirely realistic. The result may be some discomfort on behalf of the reader, but from a literary perspective, it's not something you encounter every day.
Overall, "Daughters Who Walk This Path" is far from a perfect book. Kilanko's writing, pacing, and characterizations are all a little clumsy and her approach to storytelling is somewhat strange. The strong point here is the way Kilanko inspires her readers to feel for her characters, as well as to think about feminism, oppression, society, tradition and many other topics. By no means a great book, perhaps, but one I'm glad to have read regardless.
Morayo is a solid young woman surrounded by a thoughtful and encouraging family. When a family member violates her things begin to crumble. When Morayo's secret almost destroys her, her Aunt Morenike helps to bear her burden. Through sharing her own story Morenike ushers Morayo into her healing process. Morenike is the strong tower of this novel it seems as if her strength is unwavering. As Morayo matures and makes questionable relationship choices, Morenike continues to give her sound advice without judgment. During this time Eniayo is growing up as well, becoming more self confident and soon the reader forgets about her being, afin. Eniayo's character was so lovely to me. She was a light to the entire novel.
The author's writing style is gentle, caring, and insightful. This story wrapped around you. The author makes you feel apart of the family, community, culture, and sisterhood. The reader never feels like and outsider. Morayo's character depicts a complete journey of womanhood. We read as Morayo establishes lasting friendships, works her way through difficult relationships with men, and heals from sexual abuse. Through family and individuals alike Kilanko produces an in depth tale of happiness and heartbreak.
After finishing, Daughters Who Walk This Path, I am still inspired by the women young and old and the bonds they shared. Words escape me as to how to describe the "wisdom" this novel possessed. Daughters... shows the strength of a strong female community and how it empowers, molds, and shapes its daughters from the cradle to the grave. Daughters Who Walk This Path was just an all around beautiful piece of work.
A copy of this book was provided by the LibraryThing's Early Reviewers Giveaway. The views and opinions expressed are my own.
Beginning each chapter with an appropriate Nigerian proverb, Kilanko provides the reader with a glimpse of what is to be. Thought provoking and intimate moments between Morayo and other characters keep the reader engrossed in this novel.
With "Daughters Who Walk This Path", Yejide Kilanko has given readers a memorable book. It is a book to share and to discuss with others. It is one to be read and remembered long after it is placed back on the shelf.
I can't wait for the authors next book.