His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication Date: 9/1/2020
# of Pages:
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, #ownvoices
Format: Physical copy; ARC paperback (Hardcover finished copy is shown in this post)
First Time Reading
Date Started: ?
Date Finished: listen y’all, I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping track lately, forgive me
This book was just crazy from jump. The book got going on the plot line immediately. If y’all know me I hate a slow start but this book DID NOT DISAPPOINT. The book opens up with the marriage of Afi, a young seamstress living with her widow mother, to Elikem, a wealthy business man from an affluent family. Now if the match already seems a little off let’s go ahead and add in the fact that it’s an arranged marriage AND Elikem didn’t even show up to the wedding!
Okay well, if you’ve read the synopsis you already know why he wasn’t there but lemme go ahead and tell you: HE WASN’T THERE BECAUSE HE’S IN LOVE WITH ANOTHER WOMAN! Yes that’s right Elikem is in love with a whole different woman. The reason why she’s even marrying him in the first place is because his family doesn’t approve of the woman that he’s in love with so they’ve arranged this marriage in hope that Afi will basically be able to win him back from this woman.
Now, the storyline feels problematic in the terms of feminism and women empowerment BUT I strongly urge you to read the book before you judge it. It’s not just your typical love triangle. It’s much more complicated (as if love triangles aren’t already complicated enough), and it’s not as demeaning to women as you read through it. Overall I gave this book a 4.5 stars and I’ll explain why I deducted .5 stars in the end. Of course I rounded down to 4 stars on Goodreads. I’d usually round up when I give a book half of a star but I can’t give a book 5 stars unless I had absolutely no issues with it.
So first, things I loved about the book:
- Afi’s character development. If Afi did not become the young woman she was at the end of the book I would have been absolutely devastated. I was worried that this book would simply focus on how women simply strive to be a wife or mother, and how they are willing to compete for the attention of a man in order to obtain that goal. Even though this is obviously one aspect of the book it does not overshadow Afi’s strength as a woman and her growth and maturity as the story goes on.
- I loved learning about the culture and traditions of women from a different country. Because I was not used to the culture and traditions my mind was much more open to the things that happened in the story. It was a completely new experience for me so I had no judgment or predispositions about anything prior to reading. When reading a story like this I feel that going into it with an open mindset is refreshing as it allows me to base my opinion solely on the content within the book instead of my own prejudgments that I may have. Now that’s not to say I wasn’t side-eyeing some of the things going on in the book but I wasn’t like “uh uh, I can’t read this BS no more.”
- The writing style. One thing about me is regardless of what a story is about the writing style can keep me hooked. I’ve never read a book with great writing style that I didn’t want to finish because of the plot. Basically if you’re a good story teller I’ll listen. I love that Peace made sure not to put a lot of “info dump” type of passages in the book. Instead she seamlessly included meaningful details throughout the plot. Everything felt like it flowed natural.
THE ENDING! ABSOLUTELY LOVE HOW THE STORY CLOSED. I WOULD HAVE BEEN DISAPPOINTED IN MY OPINION WITH ANY OTHER ENDING. I WISH OTHER CHARACTERS WOULD HAVE ENDED THE STORY IN A DIFFERENT WAY BUT HEY, YOU CAN’T WIN THEM ALL.
Things I didn’t like:
The use of women as tools and accessories. This bothered me a bit to see how women were treated as something to just please a man. I know it’s a different culture and I in no way want to disrespect anyone’s culture but this whole idea of basically “buying” women from their family and then not just buying them but USING them in some twisted family drama. Again I will add had the book not ended in the way that it did I think I would be pretty disappointed. Yes I know I’m talking about the ending a lot but if you want to know why you’ll just have to go read it won’t ya? *wink*
Half of the goddamn characters! I swear it seems like I just did not like majority of the main characters. Some of my favorites were people that rarely showed up in the story. This is partially related to why I deducted a half a star. I felt like a lot of the smaller characters could have had a little bit more development. Just a tidbit. I don’t think this was a major flaw of the book or anything like that. I just didn’t like Afi that much, at least not in the beginning. I started to like her towards the end though.
Now this really isn’t a flaw with the book, it has more to do with my connection to the character. In all honesty I would still recommend this book to anyone who likes the “love triangle” trope. I especially would encourage others of different cultures to read it because it’s a refreshing and relaxing way to enjoy a book while also learning a bit about the culture.
This book comes out today so run and grab a copy if this sounds like something you’d want to read (and trust me, you want to read this).
And as always Stay Positive,