Lucky Girl

Books on Tape May 2023. 11:53 hrs. ISBN 9780593452912. $95. F
Muchemi-Ndiritu’s debut novel traces a young Kenyan woman’s journey from a sheltered world in Nairobi to eye-opening experiences in New York City. Raised by her wealthy, widowed mother, a businesswoman in her own right, Soila lives a privileged yet suffocating life. Her overbearing mother controls every aspect of her days, schooling her in religion and lecturing her about chastity. After being sexually assaulted by the local priest, however, Soila sets her sights on going to college in the United States, determined to escape both her mother and her abuser. New York in the 1990s comes as a shock to Soila, who grapples with new understandings of racism, poverty, and culture. Spurred on by her mother, Soila reluctantly pursues a degree in business, but in the aftermath of 9/11, she takes stock of her life and reassesses her priorities. Musu-Kulla Massaquoi provides a calm and subtly inflected delivery of Muchemi-Ndiritu’s work, deftly capturing Soila’s struggle to navigate new cultures while respecting familiar traditions.
VERDICT A nuanced look at the complexities of race and culture in Nairobi and New York City. Share with fans of Daphne Palasi Andreades’s Brown Girls.
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