ADÉ by Rebecca Walker

ADÉ

A Love Story

KIRKUS REVIEW

Memoirist Walker (Baby Love, 2007, etc.) makes her fiction debut with a short, sad tale of love that flowers but cannot take root in Kenya.

Traveling in Africa, the unnamed American narrator feels “less and less like an outsider, and more like someone fated to be in this new place.” (She appears to be the child of a black woman and a Jewish man.) On the island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya, she meets Adé, a Swahili Muslim man who gives her the Arabic name Farida after they fall blissfully in love. They decide to marry, Adé takes her to meet his mother, and Farida applies herself to learning island ways, from making a fire to covering herself in public. (Her enthusiastic embrace of tradition makes the lyrical descriptions of their lovemaking somewhat jarring, since this would have been forbidden.) When the community decrees that the couple must go to America to ask her parents’ permission to marry, Farida’s illusion that she truly belongs shatters on the bus ride to the Kenyan capital to apply for Adé’s passport. Leaping up to protest against the soldiers who board and matter-of-factly begin to pocket the passengers’ valuables, she feels a gun pressed against her cheek; Adé rescues her, but Farida’s American invulnerability is gone. Her alienation is further reinforced by dealing with corrupt officials and callous hospital staff after she comes down with malaria and meningitis. Readers know from the novel’s first page that Farida and Adé are no longer together, so it’s no surprise when they learn there is only one seat on the plane to take her to the States for treatment. Still, it’s again jarring to be told “I never saw him again,” with no further elaboration. Walker obviously intends this to be a poetic account of a long-ago idyll, but readers simply don’t know enough to credit her assertion that “In Adé’s sturdy arms…I became myself.”

Too sketchily developed to fully succeed as a novel, though the prose is gorgeous.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-544-14922-9
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Little A/New Harvest
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2013




THIS FALL'S MOST ANTICIPATED DEBUTS:

Fiction ASUNDER by Chloe Aridjis
by Chloe Aridjis
Fiction THE ISLE OF YOUTH by Laura van den Berg
by Laura van den Berg
Fiction THE ASSEMBLER OF PARTS by Raoul Wientzen
by Raoul Wientzen
Fiction THE HOUSE OF JOURNALISTS by Tim Finch
by Tim Finch

MORE BY REBECCA WALKER

NonfictionBLACK COOL by Rebecca Walker
by Rebecca Walker
NonfictionONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY by Rebecca Walker
by Rebecca Walker
NonfictionBLACK, WHITE, AND JEWISH by Rebecca Walker
by Rebecca Walker

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionSAY YOU’RE ONE OF THEM by Uwem Akpan
by Uwem Akpan
FictionA BEND IN THE RIVER by V.S. Naipaul
by V.S. Naipaul
FictionCLAIRE OF THE SEA LIGHT by Edwidge Danticat
by Edwidge Danticat