04 November, 2017 Abuja, Nigeria
Book title: Absolution
Author: Oreva Ode-Irri
Publisher: Author House, UK (self-published)
Book type: Paperback (soft copies available on Amazon)
First of all, this book was published by an amazing friend of mine. She’s a brilliant spoken word poet and a mighty fine, brilliant soul– when she’s not being a buns, of course! This is her second book and she’s just 21! (Thank you for making me feel old, Oreva) She wrote her first book, Through The Storm, at 16. I know right. Although, the book isn’t currently in circulation, you could request a copy from her.
Looking at the cover of the book, you would be right to assume it’s Christian themed, evidenced by the cross emblem. In front, is the picture of a young lady, with red tipped curly hair, standing at akimbo, wearing a sagging sweater (or maybe it’s a jumper top, who knows?) and a pair of jean pants. She’s facing a grungy wall with her head bent, showcasing an unaided sense of frustration with her current state. A very apt motif, capturing the essence of the main character’s story; loss and a journey of self-re-discovery. It has a grey colour scheme that was turned into a plain gradient at the back page of the book cover, which I found to be quite drab and unimaginative, considering the simple, yet deep front cover page.
Traditionally, we are used to fiction books being stout and compact, but this 224-page novel was shaped in what, we would ordinarily think, is an inspirational non-fiction book. You know, them self-help-books kinda shape. I had a few folks going, ‘oh, I didn’t think it was fiction’, as well.
At the beginning of the book, we are introduced to a sad reality, the main character, Tamuno, was involved in a ghastly accident, that caused her a head trauma and left her with retrograde amnesia. She doesn’t recognise her husband, daughter and friends, and is undergoing therapy to recover her memory. A chance, her doctor said, she had. The story was narrated in what felt like a quiet and gentle whisper, an emotion, evocative of the author’s personality. Having read some of her work, on her blog, I am convinced, this is her writing style. In the music-video-montage-style, the story was unreeled, we get to delve a bit, into the quiet world of the lead character and her, somewhat, strange fellow of a husband, Michael’s, as well.
The intrigue heightens as she relearns to love her husband, while she deals with another man’s new-found affection for her. As Tamuno learns of herself, she finds out a shocking reality about her past, a truth so unbearable, she immediately relapses into a coma. What was it about her previous life that would be so unthinkable, her current self can’t handle? What becomes of Tamuno’s family afterwards? How does she find herself through the whole ordeal leading to her coma? More importantly, does she recover? This subtle mystery, and gentle nudge to inquire, was foreshadowed in the question posed in the story summary on the book cover (which oddly, had less word-count than the author bio).
Like I said earlier, I found the book to be written in hush tones, which perhaps, is why, in my view, we didn’t get to experience the intensity of emotions and battles of the story’s characters. I dare say, there wasn’t a lot of showing, but telling. Telling, done, eloquently nonetheless. I found her narrative to be borderline rhythmic. Just an inch short of the precision of poetry. Perhaps, the blur stems from her free-verse style of poetry that found its way into her prose. I caught myself yearning for more conversations in this story. Perhaps, this hunger is necessary, in that it makes me anticipate her next body of work.
I did find some undue typos in the text, errors that I, a rookie reader, could easily pick up on. Not of content, but of basic omission. Errors, which are often inescapable for even well-known authors, especially for this self-published one. Also, I didn’t get to interact with the environment in which this story was set in. It wasn’t prominent. It took me a while to realise that it was set in a modern day, Abuja city. I felt we should have engaged more with the characters’ reality. Not overbearingly though, as I find some other writers doing.
Overall, I give this book good props. It almost seemed inevitable, I know, being that this author is my friend, but, if I didn’t like the book (and didn’t want to fall out of good graces with her), I would have simply said, ‘congrats on the launch’, and moved on. The book didn’t try to make itself unduly didactic in relating its central themes of forgiveness, reconciliation, self-discovery and trusting in God, through our circumstances. The epilogue almost made me change my mind about that notion, though. Almost, not entirely.
Absolution can be found on Amazon (UK and US). It is yet to hit Nigerian book stores (at the time of this review), but you could order for a copy directly from the author. Call or email: +2348021287052, email@example.com. The advantage, you’ll be buying a signed copy and who knows, get to meet her amazingness, in person. You can find more of the author’s writings on her blog www.evadiaries.com. Go for it!
Until the next review, I remain,
Yours with a Quill!