There are books that pass me by as though I had never read them, books that become part of me and all my words are spent describing them, and then there are astonishing books my vocabulary can’t even vocalise. Wake We When I’m Gone by Odafe Atogun is just that.
“Everyone says that Ese is the most beautiful woman in the region, but a fool. A young widow, she lives in a village, where the crops grow tall and the people are ruled over by a Chief on a white horse. She married for love, but now her husband is dead, leaving her with nothing but a market stall and a young son to feed.
When the Chief knocks on Ese’s door demanding that she marry again, as the laws of the land dictate she must, Ese is a fool once more. There is a high price for breaking the law, and an even greater cost for breaking the heart of a Chief. Ese will face the wrath of gods and men in the fight to preserve her heart, to keep her son and to right centuries of wrongs. She will change the lives of many on the road to freedom, and she will face the greatest pain a mother ever can.” GoodReads.
Set within village democracy familiar and yet so removed from what I know in my Western existence, Esa must rise above the tradition of her village to claim her right to exist and protect her son. The Chief rules the village and the rules are dictated by folk law and the Gods (reminiscent of medieval England).
Esa, her son, the Orphans of the village and the villagers themselves overcome tradition and adversity to fulfil their dreams. It’s brilliant, it’s frightening and heartbreaking – just when you think something worse could never happen and it does.
Wake Me When I’m Gone is a powerful story of one woman’s fight for change and independence, despite the obstacles.
I requested Wake Me When I’m Gone from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.