Daughter in Exile

HarperVia Jan. 2023. 400p. ISBN 9780063089020. $27.99. F
In this novel of a harrowing, decade-long journey through the U.S. immigration system, readers will acquire a deeper understanding of the formidable roadblocks that face future citizens. Ghanaian Lola is a multilingual university graduate working at an embassy in Dakar, Senegal, when she meets and falls for American marine Armand and his embellished stories of life in the United States. Separated by Armand’s posting to Barbados but assured that his friends and family in New York City will welcome her, pregnant Lola risks estrangement from her mother in Ghana to resettle in the States. But the dream Armand sold does not materialize. Abandoned at a women’s crisis center, Lola commences calling in the IOUs once promised by expat acquaintances, until friends Olga and Barry offer her a room if she can get to Maryland. With newborn son Dele to care for and no visa, green card, or money, Lola navigates a dizzying bureaucratic morass, fueled by a burning desire to prove herself in America and the yearning to return home.
VERDICT Whether or not Lola’s experiences limn the author’s own, Adjapon’s (The Teller of Secrets) crackling dialogue and barbed humor feel close to the bone. Themes of classism, racism, and fierce feminism will appeal to book groups and readers of Mbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers or Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s Americanah.
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