Ofili’s debut teaches readers that moving forward is the only option.
Olivia Evezi wants to find her place in a world where she never wholly belongs. In her home of Warri, Nigeria, her white German immigrant mother is referred to as “Oyinbo,” and Olivia dislikes the way it marks them as different. Sent to boarding school in Lagos, she is immediately othered and treated poorly because of her mixed heritage. Her fantasies of jolly adventures are quickly dashed by the realities of oppression and hazing. Hoping to put that mistreatment behind her, she finds her way to Hamburg, Germany, to attend university. Her arrival is less than pleasant after being questioned by a customs agent and embarrassing herself on an escalator. And she quickly learns that while in Nigeria she wasn’t black enough, in Germany she isn’t white enough. Among her multiethnic co-workers at a bakery she finds a family and a purpose, but it isn’t enough to shield her from harsh realities. Illustrations of birds interspersed throughout the story represent Olivia’s need to escape the familiar and seek what the rest of the world has to offer. Weyhe (Arbeit, 2018, etc.) infuses West African–style figures and art executed in simple lines with an orange, brown, and green color palette. Her expressive faces pair well with the honest, straightforward text, bringing to life the journey of a young woman seeking acceptance and belonging.
A worthy coming-of-age story about resilience. (Graphic fiction. 13-adult)