Well, I’m happy to say on this last day of June that I have read all of my NetGalley books for this month – however, there were only five, so that wasn’t too hard (watch out for my report on next month – eeps!). I have finished “Bird Girl” and will be reviewing it in the next few days, but here’s my review of the rather fabulous “Dele Weds Destiny”

Tomi Obaro – “Dele Weds Destiny”

(25 January 2022, NetGalley)

These three women are essentially sisters, though Funmi would chafe at the sickly sweetness of such a term. Their love has the makings of an ancient habit; it is automatic and unyielding.

Tomi Obaro is an editor at Buzzfeed in New York and this is her first novel. I love the way it weaves together female friendships over the years and surviving one woman’s elopement to America from her home in Nigeria. And although there are a few familiar tropes in here (woman enjoying her riches married to slightly dodgy man with a violent edge who gets his money from who knows where; dual-heritage New Yorker stalking around Nigeria with her gender studies and social justice head on, getting into arguments with everyone) there’s a good amount of diversity here, too – one woman is Muslim, the other two Christian, one remaining in Nigeria is struggling, the other is successful, and the two daughters are contrasted interestingly.

We meet the girls, loud, confident Funmi, beautiful literary Zainab and Enitan, used to being the plain one, who ends up travelling furthest, at their graduation ceremony and then again as Zainab and Enitan travel to the wedding of Funmi’s daughter, the quiet and increasingly disappearing Destiny. Then we have a long section back in the 80s in their past, with a lot of powerful description of what it’s like to be young women at university in Nigeria, including a fairly graphic abortion scene, before we come back to the wedding, which has plenty of (maybe too much) detail but also the continuation of the narrative arc.

In fact, Dele marrying Destiny is the least of the plot lines really, and we’re pretty sure we know what’s going to happen there. The friendship is the thing, and the three women trying to support each other. It’s nicely told with lots of great details, for example, Enitan goes from sending her friends back home letters to them having a WhatsApp group that Funmi spams with religious content. Something I really liked about this (and I know a reader who will like this, too!) was that there’s no concession made to explaining Nigerian (mainly clothing and food, but some for types of people) terms. I knew a few of them (thank you, “Zinka, where is your Huzband” and looked others up or just assumed they were a foodstuff, etc., but it was good to see this lack of pandering to a non-Nigerian-heritage audience who didn’t want to look things up, retaining the people who want to read themselves in a book without jumping out into explanations and non-Nigerian heritage readers who are happy looking things up (OK, a fellow NetGalley reviewer has complained there are too many Nigerian terms and they were looking for a glossary, but still …).

So a good debut with maybe a little too much detail on the wedding before we get back to the plot, although it consolidates the feeling of overwhelm and pressure nicely, a sort of pathetic fallacy like Hardy’s weather in Wessex! I’d definitely read more by this author.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for making this book available to me via NetGalley in return for an honest review. “Dele Weds Destiny” was published on 28 June 2022.