I discovered this book about 2 years ago on Amazon, and unfortunately for me then, I got a taste of something good that kept me wanting more. At the time, it was unavailable for purchase on Amazon and the same was the case with Jazzhole – the best book store in Lagos, scouts honor. One day one day, I was talking to someone at work about my love for African, particularly Nigerian, literature, and he told me about this Nigerian book that he had but he did not remember the title. I was completely oblivious to the fact that this mystery book will be on that ranks high on my to read list. Lo and behold, the following day, he presents me with a copy of ‘On black sister’s street’ and I could not help but scream in joy.
The book tells the story of 4 black ladies, united in prostitution to become sisters. The main character Chisom turned Sisi, is a jobless university graduate who the fear of poverty pushed her to seek help from Oga Dele, who sex trafficked her to Antwerp. Efe, a teenage mother working as a cleaner at Oga Dele’s office, who upon a death in her family, is saddled with responsibilities that force her to drop out of school to fend her siblings. Alek turned Joyce, who unlike the other girls, is originally from war-torn Sudan, where her entire family was killed and where she finds love to an Ibo Nigerian man who brings her to Nigeria to marry her, but upon refusal by his family, takes her to Oga Dele to organise her travel. The fourth girl Ama, a victim of child abuse perpetrated by her step-father, who met Oga Dele whilst working at a restaurant owned by her aunt in Lagos. Suddenly, a death occurs, and this causes the ladies to pen up about their stories for the first time, bringing to light the fact that Oga Dele and his phrase “Belgium next to London” was a common denominator.
I will some up my entire reading experience with the word ‘captivating’. I say this because, even in moments where I had to stop reading, I could not stop thinking, speculating, and on certain occasions, discussing the book. It will be a crime to do this review with touching on Chika’s impeccable ability to accurately and intensely describe scenarios, leaving you living in the book. But, guys I must say this book was a twister. Not a twister in the Chimamanda fashion of leaving readers to make their own conclusions, but in the sense that what you expect to happen at the end, is totally not what happens – and I mean this in a good way. Most of all, this book was very real guys – with realistic characters and a realistic ending, and this is not only because of its twisted nature. For a story with characters with such sad stories, a lot of authors can be tempted to lead readers on a happily ever after trail, but this story was not one of such, it was simply real. More often than not, authors are tempted to make book unnecessarily long thereby meandering the story and character development, Chika kept it simply captivating in 258 straight-to the-point pages – good for those who do not like very long reads.
I find it hard to pick something I did not like about the boo, but for the sake of being picky I will give one.
- I did not like the way she broke the characters stories into scattered paragraphs…..but I guess that was to sort of put some mystery to the stories without giving it all away at once.