African mysticism takes center stage in this novel which explores growing up, mental health, and passion. Ada is born with a multitude of gods within her head, who are not locked out by the shutting of the door. As she grows, a more specific “god” steps forward in the form of her wild, promiscuous side and controls her passion and physicality. All along the gods demand blood, and we find Ada cutting with broken glass wherever she can find it, and the appearance of the blood calms the plethora of voices in her head.
I really liked the premise here. The representation of the confusion in a mind that struggles with depression, anxiety, or personality disorders is well represented with these external forces of African origin. Ada comes from Nigeria to America and brings those influences with her. I have mixed feelings about the depth of this method, because eventually you’ll be reading and go, “okay, so now what?” There is some growth as the gods grow in power over Ada, but Ada herself does not grow or ever really gain control. She is always a servant to the forces within, and that sends a troubling message to those looking for hope, control, or some measure of peace. I suppose it could be trying to bring attention to the multitudes that are lost, but if that’s the purpose I don’t feel like the mark is hit.
Overall the book made me feel hopeless and lost, and in my current mental space that is not a place in which I necessarily wanted to be. But I suppose neither did Ada. So, point made, I guess?
It’s a good book. Don’t rush to it, but if you’re looking for something different and sad that will make you think, consider Freshwater.
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