Book Review: Daughters Who walk this Path by Yejide Kilanko

“Listen my child, we do not abandon the business of living life just because of what people will say about us” Yejide Kilanko in Daughter Who walk This Path

I have had this book on my TBR for quite a while and for some weird reason, I never got around to reading it. There has been a lot of rave about it especially since it was shortlisted for the NLNG prize so I finally decided to dive into it.

This is a coming of age story about young Morayo who lives happily with her parents and sister until Tayo (Bros T) comes to live with them. At first, things seem normal and then Morayo is raped by Bros T and threatened not to tell anyone unless he would do the same to her younger sister. The abuse continues until Morayo is bold enough to tell her parents who send Tayo back to his mother but after that Morayo’s relationship with her parents take a different turn which leaves her feeling alone in the world and misunderstood. The story follows Morayo’s journey through life, trying to deal with the trauma the sexual abuse has caused her and even though she finds a friend and comforter in her aunt Morenike who is also a victim of sexual abuse, she still has to fight her demons on her own.

Sexual abuse is a very serious issue that has affected one too many young children (boys and girls) of which most are unknown to the parents. The effects of this abuse is boundless in the lives of those that have gone through this terrible ordeal and I am happy that we are beginning to talk about it in this generation. I am also glad that there is now a relatively large awareness around the topic and it is imperative that we educate our young children early enough about sexual abuse and make effort as parents, wards and care givers to protect them as much as we can.

Back to the book! I didn’t enjoy this book as I had expected. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good read, I just didn’t enjoy it as anticipated. Despite the powerful theme and issues, I struggled with the story telling as I found it drift off and on course in certain parts of the book. I found the build up to the main event in the story too long a wait and I also felt that there were gaps in the story that didn’t explain certain events or reasons why the protagonists made the decisions she took later in her life. There were times I had to skim read through some pages because it didn’t really add any value to the plot.

Morenike was my favorite character as she depicts someone who was able to confront her situation and turn her life around. I acknowledge that the fact she had a supporting mother and grand mother who stood by her throughout her ordeal helped a great deal in her healing process which many people lack. However, she still made the conscious decision to go back to school after having a child for a rapist and eventually become the successful teacher  she always wanted to be. Another character I liked was Eniayo, Morayo’s younger sister. I loved her bubbly nature and free spirit. In the case of the protagonist, I felt the author didn’t do justice to her character and I wish it was better developed to understand her better and empathize with some of her choices.

Overall, It was a good story with an important theme but it didn’t hold me.

Rating: 3 Stars

Published: Published in 2014 by Kachifo Farafina

Pages: 316

Genre: Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/DWWTP

The Author: Yejide Kilanko is a writer of novels, short stories, and a poet. Kilanko’s debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path (2012), a Canadian national bestseller, was longlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize and the 2016 Nigeria Literature Prize.
Her work includes a novella, Chasing Butterflies (2015) and a children’s picture book, There Is An Elephant In My Wardrobe (2018). Her short fiction is included in the anthology, New Orleans Review 2017: The African Literary Hustle.
Kilanko lives in Ontario, Canada, where she also practices as a therapist in children’s mental health.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Daughters Who walk this Path by Yejide Kilanko

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  1. Yes, I agree largely with your review. The narration on the preparations for the burial of Mama Ejiwunmi (Morayo’s grand ma) was overly prolonged.

    The flashback on Morenike’s pregnancy with Damilare and her stay with her grandma, Mama Omu, in the village was long and almost boring.

    The entire story started dragging after Chief Komolafe had met his son, Damilare. As it were, I thought if the novel had ended at that point, it would have been a beautiful story; a classic novella.

    The narrative on Mr. Tiamiyu, Morenike and Morayo’s involvement in politics appeared to shift and blunt the trajectory of the entire novel. Especially as the political story had no later relevance in the novel. I thought Morayo was going to have some later involvement in politics, so the injection of politics was to lay the background. It would have been okay if it was just to show how the gullibility of the masses are exploited by desperate politicians, like the presence of the Akara woman at the polling station. But too much time was alloted to it as a fill up.

    Then, at some points, it appeared the narration was moving too fast for comfort; it somewhat began to lose its balance. From say Chapter 18 to 20 had too many summarization and truncating of scenes and sub-stories.
    Chapter 18.
    P. 246. The next week after I had..
    P. 247. Two weeks later I was..
    P. 250, the following weekend, Kachi and I…
    Chapter 19.
    P. 251. In the months that followed, there were days…
    P. 253. Six months later, Kachi was still..
    P. 258. A few weeks later, when Mummy visited Lagos…
    P. 259. Three months later, Mummy told me to…
    P. 262. Two months later, it was my turn to…
    Chapter 20.
    P. 266. The following months flew by. Kachi’s parents….
    P. 267. Many weekends I had to escape to…

    Instead of rushing through the conclusion, if the author had been brief on politics, on Auntie Morenike’s stay with grandma during her pregnancy, and on the burial of grandma Ejinwunmi, the author would have had more space to give a more flourishing climax to the concluding parts of the story.

    However, I like the pleasantly shocking twist of Bros T showing up as the big oga of Eagle Oil, whose account Morayo must keep in his bank. Contrast this with the cancer that befell Auntie Morenike. (A vexatious case of morality, retribution and triumph of evil.) The author appears to have created an interesting topic for moral, ethical and philosophical discussion.

    The death of Auntie Morenike from cancer was very saddening. On the contrary, I thought a terrible misfortune should have befallen Bros T as punishment for his sin, as it usually is in many novels. Rather he ended a very prosperous man whose victims now had to depend on for survival. And, ironically, it was the benevolent Auntie Morenike who suffered an undeserved tragedy. But I realized that such is the way of the world. Good people suffer and die tragic deaths while the wicked prosper and are glorified. Good plot from the author.

    Author also tries to capture peculiar elements of contemporary Ibadan history by bringing in the recurring tragedy that was Ogunpa flood disaster.

    In epilogue, the author switches POV from first person past tense to first person present tense. (Interesting twik)

    In the final analysis, the book seems to have delved into love, family, tradition, proverbs, history, politics, etc. Some people might tend to think the author overloaded the book with thematic variety? Did she put too many themes in one book? Could she have made two or three beautiful books out of all she put in this one? Well, I guess it all boils down to the individual taste of readers.

    In all, it’s a good piece of literary work for a debut. Her next book, A Deep and Distant Shore’ was meant to have been out in 2015. I searched okadabooks and Amazon but I couldn’t find it. I’ll love to read it. Really would want to see how she’s been able to improve on her debut by curing the technical defects in Girls Who Walk This Path.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. This was definitely a very detailed review. It feels like we are sharing the same brain as your thoughts and mine are perfectly the same. I will also look out for her next book and see how she will tell her stories. Thank you for stopping by.

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