Review: This is the continuation of the story started in Aya, about the three friends from Youpougon, the working-class neighbourhood of Côte d’Ivoire of the 1970s, three fairly ordinary young women in a working class neighbourhood (Youpougon, in Abidjan), and their teenage lives. The first book ends with the birth of Aya’s friend Adjoua’s son, who’s supposed to be fathered by a rich boy, to whom Adjoua’s engaged to be married. The second book opens with the picture of the child, who is in fact the image of his real father — a goodlooking goodfornothing by the name of Mamadou. The stories pick up and follow the lives of the girls, meandering through various byways, including Aya’s visit with her father to his work in another village, and Bintou’s affair with an apparently rich man. And yet nothing’s as good as it seems.
In fact, the theme of this book could be the faithlessness of men. Almost every man in the book is flawed, and the women are either their victims or their saviours. It’s a lighthearted look at life in Youpougon, and well worth the money I paid for it, but when all is said and done there are enough clichés for the African/Caribbean woman to fill a book.
Comment: I read this book just in case — in case I couldn’t get through all of the African books I’d aimed to, and I’m glad I did so. That takes me to four of the six I aimed for. I have to say: Ngugi has swamped me, and I’m not going to finish his book, or the Challenge, by 2009.
Abouet’s work, though, is well worth following.