Wahala! || Book Review

in Hive Book Club2 months ago

I’d had this book sitting in my library for months and I kept trying for other stuff. Then my partner saw one of his friends reading it and so he took a picture of it and asked if it was something I’d love to read. I realized that I already had it in my library so I decided a week ago that I was going to read it. It already had a very enticing name and I prepped myself to be blown out of my mind.

About The Book

Wahala is a fiction novel published in January 2022 by British Nigerian Writer, Nikki May. It has thirty-four chapters and is about 280 pages long. I’ll start by defining what wahala is to my non-Nigerian readers. Wahala is a Nigerian Pidgin-English word that means in simple words - trouble. So from this title, you’ll already anticipate the existence of trouble throughout the book.

The protagonists of this book are three Anglo-Nigerian women(white mothers, and Nigerian fathers). They’ve been friends for seventeen years, dating from college days were they bonded as biracial ladies willing to affirm their identity and slip out of the self-consciousness that is associated with ladies of their kind, to women in their thirties who more or less have made a name for themselves in society.

Ronke is a dentist. She loves her Nigerian heritage, misses her late father whom she sees as the ideal man and dreams constantly of marital bliss. She, however, wants a Nigerian man and after a series of dodgy boyfriends, she meets Kayode. He regularly stands her up and is not ready to commit, but Ronke is convinced he’s the one. Her friends, however, think Kayode is just like the rest and don’t hesitate to voice out their disapproval.

Boo has everything Ronke wants. She is married to a loving and committed French man, Didier, and they have a smart and gorgeous daughter, Sofia. And to top it up, she has a great job. But Ronke increasingly feels dissatisfied with her life and craves the excitement and thrill that came with her single days making her constantly loathe her life and family.

Simi has the golden life. She is in a long-distance relationship with her husband, Martin, due to work reasons. Simi lives the wealthy and classy life, and wants nothing to ruin the image of perfection she poses to her friends and the world. However, Simi suffers from impostor syndrome at work and has secrets that she’s keeping from her husband who adores her. They are trying for a baby. At least, Martin is.

The wahala begins when the filthy-rich, Russian-Nigerian, Isobel, a childhood friend of Simi, infiltrates this close-knit group. She breezes into like a whirlwind. She is the very picture of elegance and class. Blonde weaves, flashy outfits, shopping craze and relentless energy. She comes into their lives and somehow, begins to fill the vacuum they felt they needed, proffering solutions and being the go-to girl for all.

What they don’t realize till it’s too late is the cracks that Isobel cunningly weaves into their friendship. From hinting at the jealousy of Ronke to Boo and Simi, to encouraging unfaithfulness and secrecy in Boo’s and Simi’s marriages respectively. A master manipulator, Isobel is set to bring these three women to their knees in the most devious of ways. Will they discover the truth in time and find the links that tie their past to the present?

My Review and Rating

It’s one of those books where I had to stop reading several times to either cuss in despair or reflect for minutes on the building events in the novel. I love this book for a lot of reasons. First is the plotting. I mean, I think I’d give the plotting alone a 10/10. It was filled with twists and turns that left me at the edge of my seat. A good storyline is a prime factor for an addictive and absorbing read, and Wahala provided this in spades.

And then what I found great were the imperfections of the characters. The fact that they weren't blameless angels and had their edges and flaws made it very realistic. Now whether I was endeared to them is a different story. Except Ronke though. She’s a beautiful soul, albeit too naive and accommodating for my taste. I detested Boo. Her selfishness and self-hatred were repulsive to me from beginning to end.

We get to the bad part. I hated the constant body shaming that was prevalent in the book. I know that that wasn’t what the author was aiming for, but Ronke’s friends fat-shaming her, the constant talk about size and body shape, Simi’s unresolved eating disorder and Boo’s myopic views of thinness wore me out. The fact that these negative views were coming from best friends and had no convincing resolution grated me even more. Their so-called best friendship was contradictory in my opinion because how do you know each other for seventeen years and let the cracks come in so easily from a stranger?

There was also this prevalent condescension by the ladies(except Ronke) for the Nigerian culture. It appeared subtle but I picked up on it and just really detested it. And there was the ending. It began to feel like too much was happening all at once. I struggled to grasp the conclusion of the lives of the different characters. After the chaos was over, there should have been more room to explore their character development instead of giving it a quick and unsatisfactory end. It would have had a soft landing but it was just too lopsided to have that head-nod effect on me.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading Wahala. I learnt many things that I can’t even begin to enumerate. Meaningful and trivial things alike. It’s a wonderful weekend read and I’m sure you won’t regret it. I give it 3.9 out of 5 stars.

Jhymi🖤


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A very 'wahalacious' book I must say, judging by your review. The plot sounds like a very interesting one. (Runs off to download it and add it to my endless TBR list).

My endless list indeed. I have so many unread books yet keep downloading more.😄

It's so intriguing how these days writers are so diverse and they are of quality. Growing up, it was difficult finding quality writers especially locals. As if the concentration were mostly western writers. But these days, foreign writers produced a nice quality writing and evocative & compelling stories too.

I think that's valid. I've fallen in love with the evocative way local writers write these days. Really awe-inspiring. Glad you love it.🌺

The title of the book on its own screams interesting especially to people who already know the real meaning of wahala. I would love to check the book out.

And this was an amazing review 🤍

Thank you, Best. I think it's the kind of book that might piss you off but intrigue you nonetheless.🌺

This review was amazingggg!! Signed up on here to let you know that 😂.
Could you please send me the e-version of this book?

Oh... that's fine.
What's your Discord ID?