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June 27, 2022

Adé: Book Review

By Wendy Robards

It was like nothing penetrated until I began making my way toward him. And then it was as if I had been dying of emptiness, so readily did the world bleed into me. - from Adé, page 10 -

Farida is an American college student when she decides to journey overseas with her friend, Miriam. Together they explore new worlds, flying to Cairo and moving south. In Africa, Farida begins to discover a part of herself which she has never known before. She notices how the local people look like her, she begins to feel bound to them in a way which is hard to express.

This new world -- with its Afro-Arab-Portuguese inhabitants with whom I shared bone structure and skin color, and whose brown eyes appraised me as if they knew me better than I knew myself -- had claimed me in a way I had not known. The island was becoming my home. My mother's prophecy was becoming manifest. - from Adé, page 45 -

And then she meets Adé, a Swahili man who lives off the coast of Kenya on an island which feels safe and idyllic. Miriam and Farida part ways, and Farida immerses herself in Adé's culture, meeting his family and planning a life with him. But Africa is not the romantic place which Farida imagines -- there is violence, political upheaval, and illnesses which are not easily treated far from America. As reality begins to intrude on Farida's dreams, she must wrestle with love and make a heart-wrenching decision.

But it was more than this. Yes, I could see it now. It wasn't him, it was me. I had done what I swore I would not do: I had romanticized Africa. I had accepted Adé's life before I realized what it might mean for my own. - from Adé, page 102 -

Adé is Rebecca Walker's debut novel -- really more of a novella at a slim 112 pages. Walker's prose shimmers with a light and rhythm which pulls the reAdér into Farida and Adé's dreamlike world. At first, like Farida, the reAdér wants to believe in this magical place and in the possibility of love overcoming darkness. But Walker allows glimpses into the dangers and pitfalls rife within Africa -- the cultural divide between the America which Farida has grown up in and the rigidity of African paternalism and governmental chaos.

From my sheltered American perch, I imagined checks and balances, the rights of the individual, and judicial protection, even though history had shown me otherwise. - from Adé, page 78 -

Walker explores the big themes of identity, romantic idealism, and the impact of civil war on the lives of individuals. The writing is luminous and beautiful, the characters captivating. Long before the end of the story, the reAdér sees the conflict and watches as Farida slides toward a reality she has not yet imagined. It is tense and riveting -- the kind of literature which holds the reAdér in its thrall while it comes to its inevitable conclusion.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book which is not just a love story, but an exploration of what it means to discover oneself in a different culture. It is about idealism vs. realism, seen through the eyes of a young adult as she moves out into the world. ReAdérs who enjoy literary fiction will want to pick up a copy of Adé and experience this very talented, new voice in fiction.

Highly recommended.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher as part of a TLC Book Tour.

Read more reviews by visiting the TLC Book Tour page.

  • Rating System

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Excellent
★ ★ ★ ★ = Good/Very Good
★ ★ ★ = Okay read
★ ★ = Not recommended
★ = Ugh! Don't waste your time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Walker is the author of the best-selling memoirs Black, White and Jewish and Baby Love, and editor of the anthology Black Cool. She is also the editor of the anthologies To Be Real, What Makes a Man, and One Big Happy Family. Her writing has appeared in Bookforum, Newsweek, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Washington Post, Vibe, and Interview, among many other publications, and she blogs regularly for The Root. Learn more about Walker and her work by visiting the author's website.

Article © Wendy Robards. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-12-09
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