This novel explores the topic of two sisters in modern-day Nigeria as they grow up in their village. It is a coming-of-age story but also a book about being able to confront your demons and express your hardships to others so they can help carry the weight of your burdens. It is the confessions shared among the women in the family that keep them strong.
Morayo opens the first chapter by recalling the day her younger sibling, Eniayo was born. It is a memorable event because her sister is an albino—which according to superstitious beliefs, is bad luck. Despite Eniayo’s “misfortune”, she is able to grow up alongside her older sister without too much tribulation—yet there is an unspoken secret between the two of them, which Morayo intends to keep, for the sake of Eniayo’s innocence.
The painful truth has to do with their cousin Bros T, who comes to stay at their house to attend school. At first he seems friendly and playful with the girls but then he starts watching Morayo as if she were a tempting piece of fruit. It is on a day when their parents are out that Bros T decides to make his move and force himself upon her. Only after being sexually abused repeatedly for weeks, does Morayo speak to her parents about it.
She soon finds out that she is not the only woman in the family who has been taken advantage of. Once Aunt Morenike explains to Morayo that her son was the result of rape, the connection between niece and aunt strengthens.
There are quotes or sayings that start off each chapter, which I thought was a great way to express the culture of the people. It is also clear that story telling is a huge theme in the novel when we get a taste of it through Morayo’s father (recounting tales that have morals) and Aunt Morenike (revealing what happened to her when she was Morayo’s age).
It is through the admittance of what happened to her that helps Morayo try to cope and heal as she gets older. Her first love, Kachi even finds a way back into her heart later on.
We see the sisterly love between Morayo and Eniayo—how Morayo would give up anything or sacrifice herself to keep her sister safe, no matter at what cost.
This book highlights the injustices that women go through at the hands of powerful or prosperous men. At the same time, it shows how women can be stronger when coming together and how it is necessary to declare any wrongdoings that befall them. The course of history can be changed because of it and perhaps eventually help the less fortunate.
It is Kilanko’s first novel and I would look forward to reading anything else she might write. Any thoughts about this debut?
If you are a member of the library, we currently own this book in hard copy only (F K483d)
Check the catalog for availability.
To read reviews on Daughters Who Walk This Path please click on the links below.
From The Globe and Mail:
For information about Yejide Kilanko, click below:
Here are some questions to start your thinking process:
-In your opinion, what is the “path” these daughters walk?
-How does Morayo evolve throughout the book? Is there a pivotal moment that revealed to you that she had developed into a woman?
To access other questions where the first two came from, please consult the Penguin website (who generously provided them) below:
Morayo recalls when the river flooded and she was scared when they didn’t know what had happened to her mother. The Ogunpa River in Ibadan really exists and has been a source of trouble to the towns it runs through. Flooding occurred in several areas of the city each time Ogunpa River overflowed its banks. The flooding of 1960, 1963, 1978, 1980 and 2011, where many lives and properties worth billions of Naira were lost, gave Ogunpa River its national and international notoriety. The flooding of August, 1980, tagged: “omiyale”, was the worst for Ibadan City. If you want to read what measures are being taken to prevent the river from flooding again or help in diverting the water, please look at a report that was published in the Indian Journal of Science and Technology in May of this year below:
This book reminded me of …
First I will start off by saying that it reminds me of Dancing Lessons in so far that it recalls a woman’s hardships in her small native town (even though Senior’s novel is set in Jamaica instead of Africa). However, I have to admit that although there are stories out there of women bonding over secrets that have to do with sexual abuse, I haven’t really read one yet. Shanghai Girls had a bit of that but it did not focus on the issue. Of course, in Kilanko’s book, the rape is committed by someone in the family—not by a stranger during times of war.
Favorite quote from book:
Mama Omi’s words to Aunt Morenike: “I know that this child was brought into your life by a painful thing … but I also know that good can come from evil. Remember this child has a part of you too. Start with loving that part. Perhaps one day, your love for your child will grow stronger than your hatred for the father.” (p. 125)
Most helpless moment in the story:
Of course the most aching part of the story is when Bros T decides he will have his way with Morayo, with him believing that what he is doing is for the good of both and that she should be enjoying it. We want to stop the scene and rescue Morayo as she realizes that she will never be the same again. She is, after all, only thirteen. (p. 67-68)
Next month’s title:
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan