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The Girl with the Louding Voice

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All you have are your words.

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education.

As the only daughter of a broke father, she is a valuable commodity. Removed from school and sold as a third wife to an old man, Adunni's life amounts to this: four goats, two bags of rice, some chickens and a new TV. When unspeakable tragedy swiftly strikes in her new home, she is secretly sold as a domestic servant to a household in the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where no one will talk about the strange disappearance of her predecessor, Rebecca. No one but Adunni...

As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless servant, fourteen-year-old Adunni is repeatedly told that she is nothing. But Adunni won't be silenced. She is determined to find her voice - in a whisper, in song, in broken English - until she can speak for herself, for the girls like Rebecca who came before, and for all the girls who will follow.

371 pages, Hardcover

First published February 4, 2020

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About the author

Abi Daré

7 books1,460 followers
Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and has lived in the UK for eighteen years. She studied law at the University of Wolverhampton and has an M.Sc. in International Project Management from Glasgow Caledonian University as well as an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck University of London. The Girl with the Louding Voice won The Bath Novel Award for unpublished manuscripts in 2018 and was also selected as a finalist in 2018 The Literary Consultancy Pen Factor competition. Abi lives in Essex with her husband and two daughters, who inspired her to write her debut novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 15,153 reviews
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
434 reviews4,257 followers
July 8, 2023
A Modern Day Les Miserables

Adunni has one goal in life: to develop her louding voice, respect when she enters a room. She dreams of the day that she can return to school; however, at the age of fourteen, her father marries her off to Morufu, a man old enough to be her father and who already has two other wives. What is in store for Adunni?

The Girl With the Louding Voice was such a moving masterpiece. At one point in the book, Adunni is in desperate need of help, and not only does she receive no help, the neighbors start to call out, "Thief!" just to get her to go away. The feelings that Adunni resonated so deeply with me, because a version of her story still echoes in the United States. How many women reported Bill Cosby? How many women said that Larry Nasar was inappropriate? Were this women helped? Nope. Instead they were ridiculed, called names, and labeled as crazy or attention seeking.

This book also had some deeply stirring moments. One person in particular died never knowing the ripple effect of her kind acts. Although there were many horrible actors in this book, there were also many people who were kind and generous who did all that they could to help Adunni. A small kindness is never wasted. What can you do to show kindness today?

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
March 31, 2021
We all be speaking different because we all are having different growing-up life, but we can all be understanding each other if we just take the time to listen well.

What a great story.

The Girl with the Louding Voice really lived up to the hype, in my opinion. One of those novels that combines gritty storytelling with a unique (louding) narrative voice. Adunni's dialect of broken English adds a certain authenticity to the tale, while still being easy to understand and follow, unlike, say, the Nigerian Pidgin in An Orchestra of Minorities (another excellent, but far more challenging book).

The story follows fourteen-year-old Adunni from her rural Nigerian village where she is forced into a marriage with a much older man, to a job under an abusive employer in Lagos. All the while, Adunni is constantly looking for a way to better herself, to become educated, to find her voice and be able to put it to good use. As the reader, we're in a unique position to both see into Adunni's mind-- her wishes, fears and desires --and bear witness to her struggles to understand those around her, especially when someone uses an English idiom that we understand, but she takes literally.
I want to ask, to scream, why are the women in Nigeria seem to be suffering for everything more than the men?

She is met with many hardships, including physical and sexual abuse, making the book hard to read at times, yet, for me, still impossible to look away from out of a need to see that Adunni made it through alright. The novel is also scattered with facts about Nigeria-- each one tying in some way with the story being told --which were interesting to me.

The only minor complaint I have is that I wasn't 100% sold on the necessity of the Rebecca story. It felt like a strange attempt to introduce a mystery subplot, with secret notes and smears of blood and whatnot, and the author really played up the mystery of it all to

But this is still a compelling book with a very charismatic protagonist. Probably one of those that could be read in 1-2 sittings if you have the time to spare.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,192 reviews339 followers
July 31, 2021
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare


I loved this book so much I could not stop talking about this and recommending this book! I haven’t read a book like this since forever and what a powerful and emotional read this was for me.

What an amazing debut novel by Abi Dare whose writing transported me to Adunni’s life, struggles, misfortunes and triumph as well. I loved reading the book in its colloquial voice of Adunni, a fourteen year old Nigerian girl, who was sold into marriage as the third wife to a much older man, who wanted a young wife in order to produce a son.

Abused and mistreated by the first wife, Adunni runs away only to find herself a slave in a wealthy household suffering all forms of abuse. Despite the life she is given, Adunni is determined to live out her dreams of going to school and becoming a teacher one day.

The story of Adunni will break your heart, and mend it right back up. The writing is very easy to read and you will find that you will become attached to Adunni and rooting for her to persevere and win in this life that is so set against her. This book made me laugh, cry, squirm to the point of discomfort and feel the different emotions all in one reading.

Congratulations to Abi Dare for an amazing and successful debut.

I highly recommend this book!!
March 25, 2021
**** Nominated for best debut fiction, it should’ve won it’s that good***

After reading so many rave reviews for this book I just had to get the audiobook. WOW is all I can say!! This book touched me in so many ways, I felt laughter, love, fear, betrayal, anguish and finally triumph! I don’t always write reviews on audiobooks that I receive from my library but this book is spectacular and not to be missed.

Adunni is a 14 y/o Nigerian woman who has recently lost her mother, who was her best friend! She is still in mourning.

Adunni has only ever wanted to receive an education. Her mother instilled this idea into her since she was very young. She knows that an education is the only thing that will get her out of Nigeria and find a place where her “louding voice” can be heard. “I will finish my primary and secondary and university schooling and become teacher because I don't just want to be having any kind voice... I want a louding voice."

Her father is worthless and only wants to find a way to make money to pay the rent on their miserable shell of a house. She has an older brother who finds work sometimes and a younger brother whom she has been caring for and loves..

Her father, against her will, marries her off to a much older man. The man wants Adunni to provide him with a son that his first two wives have not given him. You heard right, Adunni is to be his third wife.

After enduring just a few weeks of this unwanted, loveless marriage, this young 14 y/o finds a way to get out of her village only to end up as a “slave” to a rich Nigerian woman and her husband. She is supposed to receive wages which she never gets. She is treated in the worst possible way, humiliated, beaten, forced to do things she doesn’t want to. At one point she barely escapes being raped by the husband.

She finally finds a way out. She studies and applies for a scholarship to school. She has help along the way. The cook at the house where she works and a younger woman who is an acquaintance of her woman boss. She studies English and Nigerian history through books she finds in the unused library and gifts of books from her new friend.

I have heard that the dialect can be hard to read in the book but listening to the audiobook it was not a problem, in fact it added so much to Adunni’s character.

It’s hard to believe that this is still taking place today. The patriarchal society of Nigeria makes it very difficult for a young woman to escape into a new life. Girls of 14 years are often married off, giving birth to many children. Most of the population lives in poverty and there is not enough food to feed the many large families.

This was so eye opening that I have begun to do some research on what is going on in Nigeria. I found this article to be very informative https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/i...

Please do read or listen to this book, it is one of my top books of 2020!
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,309 reviews44.1k followers
December 8, 2022
Brilliant, outstanding, heartfelt, powerful, inspirational!

Dear Abi Dare helped us to hear fourteen years old Adunni’s voice perfectly loud and clear with her lyrical portraits and her special unique story telling skills!
We hear Adunni’s voice not only with our ears but also with our entire six senses, with our hearts and our souls! She leaves indelible and remarkable imprint on your soul! You cry and you smile each time you remember her story!
This is one of the most powerful, thought provoking, moving stories I’ve read on this year! It fastens your heartbeat! It breaks your heart! It crushes your soul! It shakes you to the core!

Dear Adunni is so young, she is kind, good-hearted young girl with decent, delicate soul! She already becomes motherless at young age, living with her cruel father who never treats her right, taking her from the school, restricting her dreams! Now he wants to take her entire freedom to force her marry with a man older than him. He already has two more wives!

But Adunni just want to go to back to school, living like her peers, filling her brain with more knowledge to chase her dream to become teacher. But now life deals her a compelling hand. What she’s going to do? How she will adjust her new life? Will she be able to resist and find a way to chase her own dreams?

She becomes a house maid of one of the monstrous human beings but she keeps her patience and kindness intact to get through those tough times of your life!

It’s impossible not to empathize with her curious mind, the way of her questioning things, how remarkable perspective to the outside world and her interactions with other women who have different angles about the life, have been shaped and molded by different experiences.

I don’t recommend you only once, I scream and advise you three times to read this book over and over again! It’s best of the best reads of the year!

Actually I’m planning to change my vote to support this book at Goodreads Choice Awards fiction nominees! It’s already my big winner!
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.6k followers
July 23, 2023
wow, can't believe they wrote a biography of my upstairs neighbor!!

now that we got my gimmicky introductory joke out of the way: we're back, baby.

it's my first unpopular opinion in a while, so of course it is a curse-level surprise disappointment that will rain hellfire and criticism upon me. and of course i will deserve it.

unfortunately i just couldn't get into this. the writing didn't grab me and the unrelenting awful happenings kept me really checked out of the book — i didn't have time to build a connection with the character that would have kept me invested, so i was just surface-level reading awful events.

lately i've been able to realize that i hate when it feels like a story is Trying, fairly obviously, to make me sad. when i care about characters and the writing works for me, i can feel devastated by a character burning a frozen pizza or having to go to a laundromat (to be fair, two of the worst things that can happen to a person).

but if i don't care about the characters, and soon into our knowledge of their existence on page we are left to sit and watch while terrible thing after terrible thing happens to them...instead of getting sad, i get angry!

and unfortunately that's what happened here.

bottom line: no thank you. sorry. none for me.
June 11, 2020
4.5 stars
“Your schooling is your voice, child. It will be speaking for you even if you didn’t open your mouth to talk. It will be speaking till the day God is calling you come.”

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who wants nothing more than to go to school and become a teacher. Her mother is the one who encourages her to find not just her voice, but her “louding voice”. But, when her mother dies, Adunni is sold by her father to a much older man to be his third wife.

What follows is a life of abuse and degradation with no opportunity to go to school. These are heavy themes but what makes this book shine is the spirit of Adunni. She’s spunky, filled with life and light, never losing her optimism and hope for an education and better life. She is naïve and childlike, unaware of the ways of the world, which was endearing and added much needed humor.

The entire story is told in broken English. I feared this would annoy me but I quickly fell into the rhythm and grew to enjoy it. I highly recommend this book on audio.

“Everybody in the whole world be speaking different. We all be speaking different because we all are having different growing-up life, but we can all be understanding each other if we just take the time to listen well.”

Inspiring and emotional, this is a moving story and I loved being transported into a world I knew little about. I very much enjoyed the facts about Nigeria sprinkled throughout the book.

It could be seen as a bit predictable but I read it as a parable, a story with a lesson. Adunni represents the girls who came before her and those who will come after her, the girls whose voices and intelligence have been dimmed due to poverty, lack of opportunity, the exploitation of children, enforced servitude, and the wide gap between the rich and the poor.

If you love a book that will break your heart, then stitch it up again, this is the book for you. I highly recommend this heartfelt story with memorable characters.

• I received a free digital copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Mena.
144 reviews77 followers
March 26, 2020

The plot really wasn't all that. Maybe because I am Nigerian and have heard the story of the girl who really wants to go to school but is forced into an early marriage way too many times and have become indifferent toward it.

But the real problem with book for me was the writing.

The main character, Adunni is semi-literate. She's only had a few years of school, and her command of the English language is seriously lacking. Which makes sense because English isn't her first language. The story, which is told from her perspective is written entirely in dialect. That's right, the book is written in broken English. I understand why some people would choose to write in dialect. For one, it helps the reader gain a clearer picture of the setting and character, and that it did, though I did not need the help. However, this was done in detriment to the connection I could have felt to Adunni and her story regardless of the relative ordinariness of the plot.

It also bothered me that the writing wasn't completely consistent.
How do you go from this:

"The cushion have spoil because our last born, Kayus, he have done too many piss inside it. Since the boy was a baby, he been pissing as if it is a curse. The piss mess the cushion, so Mama make Kayus to be sleeping on it for pillow."

To this:
"That sweet smell of a rosebush sitting around a mint tree, of the coconut soap in her hair just after a washing at Agan waterfalls."

...in the space of a few sentences over and over again. I found the switches pretty irksome. Pick a struggle, will you?

But I did like Adunni's character. Her strength and resolve, and you cannot help but root for her.

Would I reread this? Nope. Too stressful
Would I recommend this? To fans of African Fiction perhaps.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews610 followers
April 1, 2020
Audiobook....read by Adjoa Andoh....(Library overdrive),
synced with the ebook that I own.

“The Girl With Louding Voice”, deserves to win every award it’s nominated for!!!!

Why are the women in Nigeria suffering so much more than the men? WHY????

My heart was heavy—
taking in so much sorrow, and pain.

I was crying and laughing at the same time....towards the end.... a complete emotional mess.
My god.... this novel is BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Love the song at the end....but tears took awhile to stop.

It’s a book ... I wish everyone would read
Deeply felt and moving!!!!

Highly recommend!!!
Profile Image for Kezia Duah.
392 reviews344 followers
July 4, 2022
Wow!! What an adventure. Adunni is a girl with a vision!! After all that life continues to throw at her, she is still willing to always fight. The best part about her vision is that she recognizes that the fight is not with her alone but with the many girls in Nigeria who have gone through what she has been through and probably worse. The ending does end at a time when she is still really young, so we don’t see what her future is like. It’s fine because, after all that we’ve seen from her, we know she is going to do great things.

The story was really hard to get through sometimes. The views of women in some cultures are really horrible, and this one exposed these hard truths. It's fascinating that Adunni realized that there was something that just wasn’t right about this, and knew that she needed to take her future into her own hands. I just know that her mom was a fantastic woman. Adunni couldn’t stop thinking about her!

I also really liked how the Nigerian culture was vivid in this, even in the dark parts. The parts where they believed rituals could change a situation…like that’s pretty accurate.

And one thing I’ve definitely been impacted by is the idea of a “pounding” voice. Compelling concept!!

Profile Image for Michelle.
637 reviews504 followers
February 10, 2020
5 stars!!

This is immediately going on my best of 2020 list. There is so much to hold on to and talk about with this very special book. I found myself bereft of all hope as I read about Adunni's life, yet she continually amazed me. It opens with Adunni learning she will soon be married to a man older than her father, where she will become the third wife in her new home. To think that this practice still exists today all over the world! All Adunni wanted was to go to school and earn an education. My heart just broke for her. So many girls in this and similar situations are being robbed of opportunities and it made me so thankful that my daughter (and me too come to think of it) were saved this terrible fate. In ninth grade English, we had a unit called 'The Indomitable Spirit" and if this book were alive and kicking in 1997 when I took that course, The Girl With The Louding Voice would have been front and center. Adunni was unconquerable and that gave me hope. That kept me reading.

I read an egalley of this, but will be sure to add this to my book collection because the writing was phenomenal. My copy will be full of fluorescent highlighting because it was just that good. I absolutely urge you to read this book. Run if you have to! Abi Dare is without a doubt one of my new favorites and I will be sure to add her to my list of auto-buy authors.

Thank you to Edelweiss, Dutton Books for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.

Review Date: 02/10/2020
Publication Date: 02/25/2020
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
811 reviews1,269 followers
February 21, 2020
A beautiful debut novel!

Once again I judged a book by its cover and once again, doing so did not disappoint. The main character, our narrator, is every bit as bold and brilliant as the colours on this cover, leaping out from the page as soon as she starts to speak and tell her story.

One of the criteria of a good writer is the ability to make us feel for their characters. Be it positive or negative, we become emotionally involved in their lives. Almost from the beginning of The Girl with the Louding Voice, I was invested in Adunni, wanted her life to be better, her dreams of an education to be fulfilled. 

It is written in the vernacular of English of Adunni's town in Nigeria which I thought gave the novel authenticity. It has a beautiful cadence that draws the reader right in and makes it a book you don't want to put down. 

I particularly enjoyed that many of the chapters opened with facts about Nigeria, a country I know little about. I hadn't, for instance, realised that it's the 7th most populous country in the world, and one in seven Africans are Nigerian. Another thing I hadn't known is about Nigeria's film industry, known as Nollywood. Its worth is about $5 billion and is the second largest in the world.

I do have two complaints about this book though, which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5: The story is predictable; right from the beginning you know where it's going. Also, though it held my interest 100% for most of the book, by the last 50 or so pages, my interest was waning. I think this was due to the unbelievability of the conversations that took place between Adunni and Big Madam (the woman for whom she was a servant). It suddenly felt inauthentic and as though the author was just intent on wrapping the story up neatly. It also became overly sentimental towards the end; some readers like that in a story -- I don't. 

Overall, it's a beautiful story of a young girl who longs for an education and a better life but has to fight great odds to reach her dreams. Also, this is not a young adult novel, though it is about a teenage girl. I point that out because a lot of us do not enjoy YA and I don't want readers to be put off thinking this book belongs in that genre. It does not.
July 7, 2020
The Girl with the Louding Voice is a powerfully unforgettable story about an extraordinary 14-year-old Nigerian girl’s journey in finding her louding voice to use it to do better, do more. To fight for her choice for a future not only for herself but to help other girls in Nigeria who must obey their fathers and are defined by their marriages find theirs. I loved everything about Adunni and her story, and she is a character to admire.

“I want to enter a room, and people will hear me even before I open my mouth to be speaking. I want to live in this life and help many people so that when I grow old and die, I will still be living through the people I am helping”

Abi Daré gives Adunni her own louding voice here in the story that shines through her actions. I loved how she showed me what it means to have a louding voice. Adunni faces loneliness, setbacks and suffering that broke my heart. Her courage, empathy, kindness and strength put my heart back together. I loved her curiosity and her will to understand everyone and everything around her.

The characters and relationships between them are unforgettable, and I loved the contrast here with how different the women are and their experiences that shaped them and how they use their voices. I loved the endearing relationships Adunni had, and with each one, she learns something about herself, and how to find her voice.

I listened and read this one, and the pose is different from what I am used too. It did take some time to get used to but once I did, I could hear both the narrators and Adunni’s voice that drew me right into the story. Abi Daré and the narrator beautifully capture the voice and sound of Adunni. I could clearly hear not only her voice but her louding voice slowly coming out. I highly recommend this one and the audiobook

I received a copy from the publisher on Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
January 19, 2021
Abi Daré's The Girl with the Louding Voice lives up to all the hype and praise, and then some!!

Adunni is a 14-year-old girl growing up poor in Nigeria. Her mother recognized Adunni’s intelligence and fought for her to get an education, but that ended when she died. Regardless of what she wants from her future, because of their poverty, her father sells her into marriage as the third wife of an old man desperate for male children.

“My mama say education will give me a voice. I want more than just a voice, Ms. Tia. I want a louding voice. I want to enter a room and people will hear me even before I open my mouth to be speaking. I want to live in this life and help many people so that when I grow old and die, I will still be living through the people I am helping."

Marriage, the demands of a husband, and the cruelty of one of his other wives are almost too much for Adunni to bear. And when tragedy strikes in her new home, she must flee, although she knows as a young woman most view her as nothing but property.

She winds up being taken to Lagos and is sold into servitude to a rich, cruel woman. She is treated horribly aand beaten routinely, but she tries not to let this woman or her philandering husband steal her dreams or make her believe she is nothing. It takes two people—the household chef and a woman in the same social group as her employer—to help try and save Adunni, but will it be too late?

What a book this was. It was brutal and emotional and utterly beautiful, but Adunni’s spirit is a shining light. She is honestly one of the most memorable characters I’ve ever read about. At times this is difficult to read and at times her broken English is distracting, but as she works to better herself it becomes easier to understand her.

Daré has created a masterpiece. The Girl with the Louding Voice is truly one of the best books I've read this year.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Brandice.
913 reviews
March 21, 2021
The book description calls The Girl With the Louding Voicea simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams” and I couldn’t put it more perfectly.

Adunni is a 14 year old girl living in a rural Nigerian village. She dreams of pursuing her education to become a teacher and eventually help other girls, but her father has other plans for her, including marriage to an older man, which will help provide for their family. Against her will, Adunni complies, but faces awful incidents in marriage with her new family, one of which will force her to make a choice, altering the course of her future.

I loved Adunni, my heart swelled for her and her determination, her interest in school and wanting to learn, read, and write. She suffered so much loss and was put in so many terrible situations that a 14 year old should never be subjected to, they would be difficult for anyone to deal with.

You just need to hold on to that belief and never let go. When you get up every day, I want you to remind yourself that tomorrow will be better than today. That you are a person of value. That you are important. You must believe this ...

I admired Adunni’s fierceness and was rooting for her the whole way. The Girl With the Louding Voice is a heartfelt story.
Profile Image for Michelle.
772 reviews106 followers
February 23, 2021
Emotional; Heart-Breaking.

One of my top reads this year!

Phenomenal and incredibly original!

Abi Dare, you captured my heart and ran with it...

Oh, Adunni. Just thinking of this poor, sweet innocent child leaves me with a heaviness in my chest and tears in my eyes. I haven’t felt such love for a character since Kya in “Where The Crawdads Sing.” While I know that she is a fictional person my heart bleeds knowing that incidences and circumstances such as those detailed in this story are happening every single day to real children. Kids are raped, abused, married off at the tender age of 14-15, overworked, underpaid if paid at all, treated worse than animals, betrayed by friends and family, wrongfully accused, their lives bartered for livestock and rent money, and some have no place to call home. Sadly, the ones that are lucky enough to have a roof over their heads, can’t call it a “home” at all, because they are never truly welcome, it’s simply a house.

“I ask her why she is wanting me to weed grass on a Sunday afternoon, and she pick up a stone from the backyard and use it to knock me hard in the head and call me idiot “ for daring to ask questions.”

After Adunni’s mother passes away from illness at a young age, she is left taking care of her brothers ( 1 older, 1 younger) and her father with hardly any help at all. She does all of the cooking and cleaning and chores. But even with the eldest son “ Born Boy” as they call him, working full time, and Adunni doing the brunt of the housework, the bills cannot be paid and they are at risk to lose their home. This is when her father makes a hasty decision to sell his daughter to an old man as his third wife, in hopes that she give him a son. She is fourteen. The cost of her life, her education; her freedom: 4 goats, 2 bags of rice, a few chickens and a new TV.

“Papa is forgetting all of the things he make promise to Mama. I am marrying Morufu because Papa is needing moneys for food and community rent and nonsense.”

But, the conditions are horrid living with her new husband, his two other wives and their kids, and after a devastating tragedy Adunni escapes. But, where will she go when she can’t even confide in her own family?

When she finally finds a place to settle down she’s left with a hole and a longing for what once was and can no longer be her life. “This is a good thing to be having all of these things, but I feel as if my body is missing a part of it: an eye, a leg, one ear.”

Please, if you do anything this year—read this novel and educate yourself. This book will change you.

How is this a debut novel? Beyond impressed!

5 ⭐️ And beyond!
Profile Image for PorshaJo.
467 reviews672 followers
February 22, 2021
Rating 4.5

Another one I knew nothing about and was drawn in but the cover. I frequently check my library's audio books they get weekly. The colors on the cover caught my attention. I very quickly looked at the description and when I saw 'Nigerian village' I was sold. I love to read about far away places and learn about the culture. I was sold....but had to wait forever for it.

The Girl with the Louding Voice is quite the sad, beautiful story. Adunni is a 14 year old child who has a rough life. Her mother, who wanted her to go to school and learn, passes away. Now, her father 'gives' her to a much older man to marry. This man already has 2 wives, who have children, but he will now marry Adunni, giving money to her father and younger brother. Things just seem to go from bad to worse at each large event in Adunni's life. But she seems so full of hope. After a horrible incident, she runs away, looking for something better....but ends up in a worse spot. Eventually, she finds someone who sees the life in Adunni, her desire to learn and better herself, to use her 'louding voice' so she is noticed. I don't want to say much to ruin anything in this one.

I listened to the audio narration and loved it. The narrator did an amazing job and really brought Adunni's voice to life. This is another one of those books where I searched for things to do so I could listen. I had to know how things would turn out for her and wanted to hear more. I really liked this one, will probably be in the top reads for me this year (it's still early) but I had to knock it a bit for predictability in the end. I look forward to the next book by Abi Dare. A highly suggested read for someone who want a great read with a truly inspiring story.
Profile Image for Nicole.
750 reviews1,937 followers
October 5, 2021
Why hasn’t this book been on my radar sooner? I randomly came across it while looking for fiction novels that I can listen to as audiobooks. Turns out, it’s a powerful and very good book. This is the story of a Nigerian girl, born in a small village and then forced to marry at 14. We follow her next year while she tries always her best to educate herself. And learn. And go to school. Adunni was a character to admire. She’s brave, ambitious, smart, and kind. The cover is also so cool.

It’s an amazing story that is definitely worth a read. Adunni is inspiring, she is very determined, willful, and works hard. I also loved that no matter what she went through, she never completely lost hope even when her situation seemed to be desperate. The ending was also well-executed. I'll be keeping an eye out for Daré's future books. She proved herself to be a talented writer with this novel.

As for the audiobook:

It’s in English of course but it’s narrated in a Nigerian accent. The whole book. So some of you might not be a fan of that but for me, it worked greatly, if anything, it added to Adduni’s characterisation. I read the last few chapters and it was weird switching to reading (and I couldn’t help but think of some of the expressions as Adunni would’ve). I found the audio to be well-narrated and it definitely helped me feel the Nigerian atmosphere more. It improved my experience reading this book for sure.

Profile Image for Barbara**catching up!.
1,397 reviews806 followers
February 25, 2022
Treat yourself to the audio version of “The Girl with the Louding Voice” by Abi Dare’ narrated by Adjoa Andoh. Listening to Ms. Andoh provide the voice of Adunni brings life and authenticity to the story. I’m fairly sure I enjoyed the novel more by listening to Ms. Andoh rather than depending upon my own version that I would have formulated in my mind.

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl, raised in a small village under poverty. After her mother dies, her father sells her to a man to be his wife. Adunni’s mother told her that she must get an education, that an education is necessary to rise from poverty. Before she died, her mother made her father promise that he would continue Adunni’s education. Selling Adunni brought an income into Adunni’s family, so her father did it with little fanfare.

So begins our education into the life of a young teenage girl from the villages of Nigeria with little education and support. Author Abi Dare’ brings to light the contrasting lives in Nigeria based on class and wealth. Women are gaining stature in their society but continue to lag behind the male dominated society. Furthermore, Dare’ researched housemaids in Nigeria and discovered the violence and mistreatment that these very young girls endure. Dare’ wanted to give voice to these young girls, enlightening her readers.

Adunni is “sold” again to a wealthy family in Lagos as a housemaid. Although she is continually mistreated, Adunni remains innocent and hopeful. Adunni is a rare character who will stay with the reader for a long time.

Since I listened to the novel, I did research to find out how the novel was written. It is written in broken English, just how Ms. Andoh narrates. The broken English is what makes the listen beautiful. And Ms. Andoh provides the voices of the other characters supremely.

I loved this story. It’s a troubling read as we journey with Adunni through her traumatic period, and thankfully Dare’ chose to write a story of hope.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,902 reviews534 followers
March 11, 2020
Adunni is a 14 year old Nigerian girl who has had limited educational opportunities, but she has always wanted to become a teacher. Her opportunities shrink even more when her father sells her to an old man to become his third wife. Her job is to produce a son for him. Following a frightening experience, she runs away and a man claiming to be helping her turns her over to a wealthy couple to work as their maid. She gets no wages, is regularly beaten by the wife and sexually threatened by the husband. Adunni is lucky enough to find a mentor to help her attain independence. That was the only false note I felt in this book. It just seemed too easy for her to manage to break free from her entrapment in this abusive scenario within a mere year after leaving her father’s house. I also found the dialect a little difficult to follow at times.

It’s really hard for me to come to grips with the fact that this story is set in the 21st century and not the 19th. It was a glimpse into an overwhelmingly patriarchal society of forced marriage, indentured servitude, brutal ceremonies and various condoned abuses. However, Adunni was strong, resilient and determined to use her louding voice to demand that she be noticed and respected. 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Holly.
1,449 reviews1,091 followers
February 11, 2021
Was this a good book? Yes. Did I enjoy reading/listening to it? Not really.

I have to hand it to the author - the use of 'incorrect' English was at first a bit grating but it did serve a very specific purpose. It highlighted how young Adunni really is and how she was taken away from school at a very early age. Most importantly, the author spells it out for us many times throughout the book that knowledge of the English language does not make you a smarter or better person. Adunni is consistently the kindest, most hardworking, and determined person in any room, no matter how 'well spoken' others may be. Yet she is still very interested in improving herself through school but only so that she can help other girls rise above their circumstances.

While I really liked Adunni as a character, and I appreciated the moral of the story behind the plot, I just really didn't care for this book on an enjoyment level. Mainly because SO MANY bad things happen to Adunni. And yes, there's my privilege shinning through that not only have I never had to experience any of these things, I don't even want to read fictional accounts of it. But I really don't. Especially when there is nothing positive to hold on to. We don't get to see more than a brief moment of happiness and then the book ends. The rest of the book is just all the ways people fail Adunni and all the terrible things she has to endure. It's depressing, which is something I am ok with in non-fiction because that's real life, but I prefer my fictional books to have more of a happily ever after. Or at least more moments of happiness/hope throughout the book. However unrealistic that may be.
Profile Image for Lucy.
417 reviews626 followers
July 14, 2020
”Not his-story... My own will be called her-story. Adunni’s story.”


This book was stunning and impactful. It follows 14 year old Adunni, all she wants is an education and to become a teacher, yet she is taken out of school. When her father announces that she is to be married to a much older man as his third wife, with the expectancy for Adunni to deliver the mans son and heir, her dreams feel further away. When tragedy happens, Adunni must run away to a life of slavery and servitude in the city to an abusive and wealthy family.

This book told the story of how a girl is repeatedly told and shown she is nothing through words and actions. However, it is one of hope and power and finding your voice, to be a voice for many girls like her and those who are missing, to achieve their dreams.

Adunni was a fantastic character to read from. She suffers so much in this book and yet at the age of 14, she still has so much hope and happiness. I loved her dedication to wanting to learn and to be heard.

There is a lot to unpack in this book- from facts to emotions and experiences. Adunni suffers terribly: through rape; physical abuse; being poor; and being a girl in Nigeria. A lot of these facts that are brought to attention throughout the book were often shocking and appalled me- I was especially shocked to learn how prevalent and common “jungle justice” is in Nigeria and lack of prosecutions on these events.

I don’t think I realised before quite how bad it is to be a girl in Nigeria, especially one who is young and from poorer background and the expectations that are placed on them ie, to be married (a child bride) and to must have children. They must be quiet and follow the husband and be a baby maker of male heirs.

This book was brutal and honest and I hope the author writes a paragraph (or anything) to show what happens to Adunni as I need to know how her story goes on.

FACT: Despite the creation in 2003 of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, to tackle human trafficking and related crimes, a 2006 UNICEF report shows that approximately 15 million children under the age of 14, mostly girls, were working across Nigeria.

Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,823 reviews1,387 followers
November 15, 2020
I want to tell her that God is not a cement building of stones and sand. That God is not for all putting inside a house and locking Him there. I want her to know that the only way to know if a person find God and keep him in their heart is to check how the person is treating other people, if he treats people like Jesus says – with love, patience, kindness and forgiving

This book won the 2018 Bath Novel award for debut writers.

The judges citation for that award, given by the literary agent Felicity Blunt, who then went on to represent Abi Daré is, I think, a perfect summary of the book.

“This is a book that looks at women’s roles, not from a soap box, but from the ground beside them. It is poignant but never saccharine, it is painful but never exploits that pain. It is beautiful because it is ultimately a song of kindnesses. The winning book is a book of many voices, heard and unheard. But ultimately it is about one girl and her ambition to find and own her voice”

This book was then shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize for debut novels, losing out only to the wonderful “That Reminds Me”. Preti Taneja, head judge and previous winner for her brilliant “We That Are Young” also captured the spirit of the novel:

‘The Girl with the Louding Voice is a virtuosic study of female loss, determination, and of the subversive potential of words: it magnificently reveals how language constructs us as humans. With immense skill, Daré creates an irresistible energy and powerfully sustains it on every page.’

The book was also shortlisted for the 2020 Guardian Not The Booker prize and backed by two judges - the third though (who might have been me) preferring a book more suited to the prize and its boost for little known authors with a strong fan base of readers.

The first person narrator of the book is Adunni. Her mother inspired in her a desire for education as a road to independence – a desire which drives her (and gives the book its title):

In this village, if you go to school, no one will be forcing you to marry any man. But if you didn’t go to school, they will marry you to any man once you are reaching fifteen years old. Your schooling is your voice, child. It will be speaking for you even if you didn’t open your mouth to talk. It will be speaking till the day God is calling you come.

That day I tell myself that even if I am not getting anything in this life, I will go to school. I will finish my primary and secondary and university schooling and become teacher because I don’t want to be having any kind of voice …. I want a louding voice.

But at the book’s opening, her mother has died and Adunni’s father has pulled her out of school and at fourteen year old he tells her that he is marrying her off to a local taxi driver – Morufu (in exchange for a generous bride price including her father’s Community Rent). Whereas Adunni’s friends are excited, she is horrified due to her education ambitions. And things do not improve when she is married – subject to marital rape by Morufu and the open hostility of his first wife Labake, her only ally is his second wife Khadija (desperately trying to produce a son for Morufu). And when things go very wrong for Khadija, and my implication Adunni, she flees to Kampala, finding herself sold as a housemaid to an abusive wealthy owner of a fabric factory (Big Madam) and her predatory husband Big Daddy. But education remains her dream of escape – a dream fuelled by Big Daddy’s cook and by a campaigning social acquaintance of Big Madam (Ms Tia).

The really distinctive element of the book is the voice of Adunni – a kind of broken English. The author has said that she did not want to write in the Pidgin English spoken by poor and rich Nigerians but find Adunni a unique voice.

And I think the correct way to think of the voice is as more akin to say that in Ducks, Newburyport or Milkman: not as a straight, literal rendition (Adunni thinks in the voice and presumably most of the time thinks in Yoruba, in which she is fluent), but as a literary interpretation.

It is one that: gives Adunni (and the book) a distinctive and memorable style; fits Adunni’s character – always speaking up, always bringing a fresh perspective, questioning things which others are resigned to; fits the central themes of the book – the importance of language and education, the need for girls to be given the chance to find and develop their voice.

Overall I found this a powerful and moving story – it is not one that I think everyone will like (particularly some of my Goodreads friends): the book has a distinct plot and a fairly neat resolution; its apparent simplicity is deceptive – carrying off and sustaining (while also gradually developing) Adunni’s voice is an impressive feat of writing; it is a book I think founded on optimism, looking at the worst of society and human behaviour and then looking for hope rather than wallowing in despair.

Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,184 reviews30.5k followers
August 7, 2021
I finally read this gem everyone has been talking about, and I loved it! Of course I did!

Adunni is a teenager living in a Nigerian village when her mother passes away. Eventually, her father pulls her from school for financial reasons, something he had promised her mother he would not do. He then breaks another promise to Adunni’s mother by arranging her marriage to a much older man. This means her father can pay his rent and eat, but it also means young Adunni is placed in an abusive environment - abuse from another wife of the man she is married to, and abuse from him as well.

Adunni does everything she can to seek a different life path for herself. She eventually is taken to the big city of Lagos and works as a housekeeper there, but she is trafficked into the work and is in another abusive environment. Luckily for her she meets two people along the way who may help her right her path.

Adunni’s narration in dialect is exceptional, and you can’t help but find her endearing and wish the best for her. This is a story to cherish, a character to champion, and one I won’t forget. If you haven’t read it yet, please don’t miss it.

Thank you to my bestie, @bibliobeth, for helping me read off my shelves and sharing in this amazing experience with me.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Jennifer Welsh.
258 reviews222 followers
July 8, 2022
I’m on a role.

Structured much like Tara Westover's "Educated," this debut coming-of-age story is of Addunni, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl who gets sold to a wealthy man to be his 3rd wife. Addunni is bighearted and full of fight in the face of horrific circumstances. I was with her all the way.

What surprised me most about this novel were the ways in which wealth and power abused an innocent girl in current times. Sometimes I'm still so naive.
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,947 followers
February 4, 2020
Today is publication day for this book. Congratulations, Abi Dare!

This novel won the Bath Novel Award for unpublished manuscripts in 2018. In this interview Abi Dare shares a little about the story and her writing process:

4.5 stars

When we think of a coming-of-age story, we usually imagine a sweet, gradual awakening from adolescence into adulthood. There are bumps and bruises and broken hearts along the way, but it's all just part of growing up. Adunni is a Nigerian girl who doesn't get the luxury of that incremental process. Her coming of age is swift and brutal, dictated by her father, who thinks a girl-child is "a wasted waste, a thing with no voice, no dreams, no brain."

When Adunni is fourteen years old, her father sells her to a rich old man who wants a third wife. Thus begins a journey that is disturbing and traumatic, but ultimately triumphant.

Before Adunni's mother died, she told her daughter, "Your schooling is your voice, child. It will be speaking for you even if you didn't open your mouth to talk." Throughout everything Adunni has to endure, her dream of furthering her education grows ever stronger. Even after she is essentially sold into what amounts to socially sanctioned slavery in Lagos, she never gives up hope. She wants to become a teacher because, she says, "I don't just want to be having any kind of voice...I want a louding voice."

There are a number of messages the author is trying to convey about Nigeria in this novel. Adunni is representative of several social ills, including child marriage, slave labor, and the enormous chasm between the rich and poor. Nigeria is the wealthiest country in Africa, and yet over half of its people live on less than one dollar a day.

All of these issues are important, but as a reader I was content just to get to know a spirited girl like Adunni. At first I wasn't sure what to make of her, but she grows on you. She already has the voice her mother spoke of, but she's clueless as to how to use it to her best advantage. She really is still a child, and she blurts things out and asks inappropriate questions at the most inopportune times. It gets her in a lot of trouble. Sometimes she is beaten or made to go without food, but she can't help herself.

Eventually Adunni asks the right people the right questions, and she gets a shot at a brighter future. Sometimes all it takes is someone who can point you in the right direction and who believes in you as much as you want to believe in yourself.

Adunni is the first person narrator and she tells her story in an unusual style of English that takes a while to get used to. At first I wasn't sure if I could stick with it, but my brain did adjust, and eventually I stopped noticing it. If you watch closely, you will notice that the the style changes ever so gradually in the second half of the book as Adunni gets the chance to improve her English skills.

Available February 4, 2020
Profile Image for Michelle.
653 reviews182 followers
February 5, 2020
4.5 stars
"I want more than just a voice, I want a louding voice. I want to enter a room and people will hear me even before I open my mouth to be speaking."

I first came across this book in an article written in Daily Kos challenging readers to read 52 books by women of color over the course of the year. I fell in love with the cover. I fell in love with the description. Once I started reading I fell in love with Adunni and her spirit.

The Girl With the Louding Voice is a coming of age story set in Nigeria. Fourteen year old Adunni has always been encouraged by her mother to follow her dreams. But shortly after her mother's death she is sold off into marriage against her will. Most of the village is happy for her. Her chosen husband is rich and can afford to pay the community rent as part of her bride price. Not all young girls are so lucky. Adunni with her hopes and her dreams is seen as selfish and ungrateful. What she is expected to do is obey her husband and give him boy children. This might sound outrageous for this day and age. Surely child marriage is a thing of the past right? But no. Although there are some protections in place, young girls are still being forced into marriages. A 2018 UNICEF report estimates that one out of every three girls is married before they reach the age of 18.

Although child marriage is an important topic, Dare's debut novel explores patriarchal society more deeply. She looks at the exploitation of children for free labor and examines women's roles in furthering these offenses. In fact, the women in the book were some of the most egregious perpetrators when it came to abusing young girls and women. I understand the concept that "hurt people hurt people" but injustice does not thrive without compliance. That being said I think that The Girl With the Louding Voice was a fairly accurate depiction. I really appreciate that Dare chose such a headstrong and vibrant young character to tell this story.

Special thanks to NetGalley, Dutton Books and Abi Dare for access to this wonderful book.
Profile Image for Jessica.
326 reviews392 followers
December 4, 2020
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

I loved The Girl with the Louding Voice. This is a very unique and important story. Adunni has an extremely difficult life but continues to fight for a better life every day. The amount of struggles and hardships Adunni faces was very heart breaking and eye opening. Many of Adunni’s struggles are not common problems in the United States where I live. I learned a lot about Nigeria from reading The Girl with the Louding Voice. Chapters start with a fact about Nigeria. Most of these facts were very surprising to me.

I highly recommend everyone read The Girl with the Louding Voice. I heard many praises for the Girl with the Louding Voice and it definitely lived up to the hype.

Full review: https://rb.gy/w4ft5y
Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,249 reviews643 followers
February 2, 2021
This is definitely my book of the year. What a voice Abi Daré gives to her heroine Adunni. What a spirit resides in that girl, courageous and indomitable, waiting to burst out if only given a chance to use her "louding voice" to make others sit up and notice her.

Adunni is fourteen when her mother dies. Despite living in a small Nigerian village where girls are expected to marry early and raise children, Adunni's mother believed girls should be educated and makes her husband promise he will allow Adunni to continue on at school and train for a career. However, without the family income from his wife's market stall, Adunni's lazy, drunken father exchanges her for a handsome bride price to an elderly taxi driver as his third wife. Eventually having to flee her village, Adunni ends up working in Lagos for a wealthy women, a virtual slave, beaten and abused, never receiving a salary and working from dawn till late in the night. Even then, beaten down and exhausted, Adunni longs to escape through education and to make a difference to other girls like her. She is not without friends, with the cook at her house and a young woman who lives near recognising her spirit and fierce desire for education and helping her find a way out of slavery and poverty.

I listened to the audiobook of this novel, narrated so wonderfully by Anjoa Andoh, and loved the way Adunni's voice and spirit immediately dominates the narrative. At the start of the novel her dialect and use of English is unusual and might be difficult to read, but in the audiobook her meaning is always clear and her use of language is full of life and colour. Congratulations to Ms Daré for bringing this wonderful book to life through her strongly written characters and excellent narration. May it win all the awards it deserves. 5+++ ★
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