Odogun’s debut novel shows a young couple’s world descending into chaos in a Nigerian mining town.
Miriam and Elijah live near Jos, Nigeria, where Miriam works at the local health clinic and Elijah works in security at the mines. The young couple is happy, in love and expecting their first child, who turns out to be two children—twin boys. In a parallel story, just as Miriam gives birth to her boys, two women on their way home from work discover an abandoned baby boy near a school. Handed over to the authorities, the baby grows into a young boy in care of the state. Life then passes happily for 11 years. Miriam and Elijah enroll their twins in a prestigious academy, the same one that the abandoned boy, Yusuf, gains entrance to on a scholarship. While Elijah is away at the ceremony welcoming new students, someone breaks into and robs the office of the mines, where he works, and steals workers’ wages and murders police officers. Elijah was supposed to be on duty at the time, and his replacement had stepped away in search of a drink; their absence casts suspicion over them both. Soon, they find themselves in jail, held on suspicion of conspiracy. From that point on, Elijah and Miriam struggle to clear Elijah’s name and overcome new obstacles, from Elijah’s prison life and solitude, and money woes for Miriam. At the same time, their twin boys meet the formerly abandoned boy, Yusuf, and their fates intertwine. The novel has great promise along with serious yet fixable problems. Most notably, there’s an inconsistent, unappealing style marred by an overabundance of passive statements. Aside from that, grammatical mistakes—i.e., “Though there was no dark spots”—slip in with distracting frequency, and dialogue often sounds unnatural and indiscernible among the numerous characters. However, the author clearly cares for his characters and shows compassion for them. The intriguing plot holds its own, but another round of editing would have made the story truly shine.
An unpolished novel with heart and potential.