Thanks to Libro.fm for the ALC of this book. It is one that I would definitely not have picked up as fast, if ever, without that push. And while there are quite a few ALCs I’ve gotten from them that remain unread (I’m just one person and there are so many great books and just too many things other than reading on my to do list – ugh!) this is one that jumped to the top. I could lie and say I don’t know why, but I do. The covering is freaking gorgeous, so fun, incredibly eye-catching. And I was in the mood for something a little faster and lighter and the blurbs all made this one sound just as fun as the cover makes you feel.
Ronke is a successful dentist and wants the family life to match (a husband and kids), but her track record with guys isn’t great. And her friends are convinced her current boyfriend is also not the perfect Nigerian man (like her father was) that she’s looking for either. Boo has a devoted husband and young daughter, everything Ronke wants, but she’s feeling crushed under feelings of stagnation and a loss of sense of self. Simi works in fashion and seems to have the perfect high-style life, but is secretly suffering with imposter syndrome and guilt from having “failed” family expectations. Her relationship with her husband is perfect except for one thing: he thinks they’re trying to get pregnant, and Simi is still on the pill. Enter Isobel. She’s a childhood friend of Simi’s and they just reconnected. Iso is high energy, loaded, and looking for a group of friends to be besties with. However, the more time she spends with the tight-knit group of three, even though it *seems* like she’s helping them, each of their lives slowly start to unravel until everyone’s secrets are out in the open and things reach an intense and unexpectedly violent climax. Can Ronke, Boo and Simi survive Isobel and all the wahala (trouble) she brings?
Well this was 100% pure entertainment literature right here. So. Much. Drama. And it was all drama that was always there, simmering (and growing) under the surface, amongst the friends and within their homes and with their partners, that might have one day come out all on its own and caused (at least some) of the same issues. As keeping secrets, and the eventual outing of them, is wont to cause. However, with Isobel thrown in there fanning the flames and encouraging questionable decisions and sowing discord, her position as the catalyst for all these secrets coming out and issues coming to a head was high quality theatrics. I was turning pages as fast as I could, as the interpersonal tension built, trying to figure out how it was all going to play out and what the heck was up with Isobel! I do love reading an unhinged/unreliable female character every now and again, and she was a fantastic one. (Like Lucy in Tangerine, except I enjoyed this novel much more – it had the tension, but was more drama than thriller, which was the lighter vibe I needed.) I also appreciated how May wrote Ronke, Boo and Simi as really well-rounded characters. They had hopes and dreams, but they also had weaknesses and emotions/reactions that they couldn’t explain…and all of that felt really perfectly messy and human in a way that was deeply recognizable. Always a sign, for me, of a well-written, fully dimensional character. And while they all, especially Iso, needed less enabling and some real time with a therapist, they all rang true (minus some parts of Iso, haha).
This is looking like it’s going to be the shortest review I have written in…maybe years. But I just don’t have all that much that I feel needs to be added. I loved the Nigerian cultural and food aspects, especially in the way they were presented from so many different Nigerian perspectives, from being deeply steeped in the culture growing up to those who feel separated from their heritage because they didn’t have exposure to it during their formative years. It’s a great look at the variety of ways that immigration affects traditions and families. I also was happy with the fact that the drama and secrets of the three friends stayed…realistic, relatable. And while the reason Iso comes (back) into their has a touch of the “suspension of disbelief needed” to it, it also stemmed from decisions and situations made before the three met and while they’re facing “consequences” for them, that made it feel more believable when they were all unaware of/”slow to catch on to” Iso and why she was there and making their lives fall apart.
This had all the vibes of a traditional suburban family drama (though of course it was set in uber-urban London). It had the secrets, the “gasp” moments of reveals, the aspects of tragedy/violence, the families and friendships, and the unputdownable “what is going to happen next?!” tension-building. I was completely diverted by this story, it was so vibrant and melodramatic – such a lively reading experience!
2 thoughts on “Wahala”
Not one I’d think to pick up but sounds interesting! I might have to seek it out
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It was so entertaining! Not one I would normally pick up either, but it was a great jump outside my normal.