Thoughts on In Dependence by Sarah Ladipo Manyika

If you’ve read the post on books I’ve read this quarantine (find here) then you know that I adore Sarah’s writing style. This book was her debut and if perhaps I expected her to be rusty, she disappointed me completely. Her debut was overwhelmingly good for a debut.

In Dependence is a complex story, chiefly because it is about love and love can be complex, especially in the ways that it manifests in this story. I’ve been caught in the past saying love isn’t complex but rather humans are (find where I said so here; Nobody is Single) and while I still hold that to be true, I suppose in my experiences with romantic love I can also say as a matter of fact that love is complex too and maybe two complexities, being people and love shouldn’t have to exist so closely in other to avoid chaos. Lol. But isn’t beauty often chaotic? But also, isn’t love complex because people are complex and it is people who love? I’m rambling I know. I tend to get all philosophical when I talk about books. Forgive me. Let’s get on with it then; how was it, reading this book?

It’s a book centred around Tayo (Nigerian) and Vanessa’s (English) ill-fated love story. Ill-fated because race, and this was race in the 60s. It was difficult era for that kind of love.

One thing I really loved and thoroughly enjoyed about this book, and we should applaud the author for this, was that there was much to learn about cultures, people and places outside my comfort zone.

There’s only so much an Osogbo girl can gather in her small homely town but through the pages of this book I was able to travel to London, France, Darkar, San Francisco… and I dare say, even live in those places for a period of time. It was quite the adventure, down to meals and greetings. Can you tell I how much I enjoyed it? It was mad fun!

I also love that the chapters were short and the author used letters from one character to the other to move the story ahead. Unexpectedly the part I found most annoying about this book was the love story. I understood why Tayo and Vanessa might have had difficulty being together in the 60s, with him being black and her being white but still I feel that most of the unravelling of their love was their own doing, mostly Tayo’s. Then again I’m not sure if I can blame him, considering in entirety his circumstances.

There were many sub themes in this book as regards to Africa, particularly Nigeria. I suppose that’s one of the reasons it was chosen as the literature text to be read by JAMB candidates one particular year, can’t remember exactly when. There’s politics; did independence come to early? Would Nigeria do better under military rule? How do we, citizens combat corruption as a nation? Can one patriotic individual bring about tangible change or is it too dangerous and futile a mission? Then there’s the question of the arts, writing… Does one have to live in Africa or be African to write or speak to issues concerning Africa, is it not condescending or irrelevant what such people have to say? If not, then why not? What gives a person the right to speak into a culture, is being a well meaning human enough? Then there’s family; how much should one give? Should our dreams be sacrificed for the sake of family? How much sacrifice is enough, how much is expected? Then love; is age important, do you gain more skill and know-how in loving a person the older you grow? Some questions the author attempts to answer and others are left open, for thought, debate, discussion, deliberation. So it’s a thinking book as well as it is an entertaining one. The perfect blend if you asked me.

I wouldn’t read this book again because like I said, I found it annoying in some ways. Lol. Or maybe it’s the characters I found annoying, either way, you get the gist. But yeah, great read. Loved that I learnt a lot. Currently reading Gary Chapman’s Things I wish I knew before I got Married and I must say it’s the most practical book on marriage I’ve come across so far. Can’t wait to share my overall thoughts with you when I’m done. See you then, or before? We’ll see!

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