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uzo amaka
Ages of Suffocation: Remembered Dreams
Uzo Amaka, author

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

A thrilling memoir told in moments of flashbacks about a young beauty, OMA. She had a sudden recollection of a dark past while she sat in a counseling session and a question from the counselor, JUNE, to OMA, triggered a series of suppressed memories. JUNE pressed OMA on during the session to speak more about her experiences with her stepmother and sisters as a child growing up in Nigeria and OMA unsuccessfully attempted to redirect the topic. OMA broke down in uncontrollable tears and began to tell JUNE of her first memory as a 7 year old girl in Nigeria. OMA’s father (CHRISTIAN) had taken OMA and her two sisters from their mother (DENISE) after a bitter divorce, taking them to Nigeria where they stayed for over 10 years. CHRISTIAN re-married so the girls could have a mother figure at home. FLORESSA; was their beautiful, light-skinned, tall, well-built, stepmother. FLORESSA had a unique beauty about her; when she walked into a room, her presence demanded attention. Being light skinned in Nigeria was considered ‘beauty’ and ‘class,’ and being a tall woman was also quite rear and exotic and FLORESSA had both. To the outside world, FLORESSA was the one to be like; but in the walls of her home, no good person would have wanted to be like her. OMA took comfort in her two older sisters to get through the torture and abuse they faced daily. They were protective of her, helped take care of her but they were also just one year and two years older than OMA. How much could young girls in Nigeria do to protect themselves? Going through marital life was meant to be easy; well, as easy as they come considering OMA and SEBASTIAN’s relationship was the envy of their friends. OMA began her marital relationship being submissive to her husband. She let him make all the decisions, pay all the bills, and even followed all his directions with pride. Prior to getting married, OMA was a well educated, work driven, independent woman. But OMA had the belief that a woman should be a bit submissive to her husband to allow him be the ‘man’ and provider of the house. To OMA’s marital detriment, this belief was observed by her charming, handsome husband who began to take advantage of the leniency OMA had given him. OMA finds herself struggling with, what some may find easy to decide; staying in a distrustful marriage, or fighting to keep her family together. The pressures of trying to come up with an answer, pushed OMA to spend more time with her high school friend VICTOR who; unbeknownst to OMA, had secretly loved her since high school and is hurting for OMA in her current marital struggle. VICTOR hopes OMA leaves SEBASTIAN for him.


By Sierra D Gehrke on July 27, 2015

Format: Paperback

A woman's life is compartmentalized into three distinct voices; girlhood, teen years and adulthood in the heart-breaking and inspiring true story, "Ages of Suffocation: Remembered Dreams" by Uzo Amaka. Every woman has a story but this narrator has a foot in two distinct and different worlds, Nigeria and California. Amaka beautifully describes what it was like growing up a member of a privileged Nigerian family. Despite material comfort, she and her sisters were left vulnerable to abuse by their archetypical wicked step-mother and others. They banded together to navigate an unpredictable home life until they were sent to a strict, rural boarding school. The reader gains insight into life of a typical Nigerian schoolgirl who had no other choice but to adhere to rigorous standards of academic achievement and discipline. But her story does not end there; she and her two sisters arrive in America only to be forcefully reunited with their biological mother, a woman who the author barely knew existed because she and her sisters had been illegally kidnapped by her father and brought to Nigeria many years before.<br />A standard story would end here with a beautiful reunification between a lost girl and her true mommy but that isn't the way real life works is it? Her mother struggles with depression and is woefully unprepared to care for three teenage Nigerian daughters who miss the only loving parent they have ever known, the father who abducted them. Most of all this is a story of complex, dysfunctional relationships that exist in all our families. The author takes the high road and steers away from being a victim or blaming the many guardians who failed her. In fact, characters who the author could make hateful strangely evoke sympathy because they had poor parenting skills not malicious intent. Other adults cannot be forgiven for their misdeeds but this is a story of triumph within the context of the American Dream.<br />As an adult, Amaka struggles to find closeness in her relationships with women outside of the bond with her two sisters. She becomes a modern, career woman in California built on the education and discipline she learned in Nigeria but she is neither entirely Nigerian nor entirely American. She marries a very traditional Nigerian man whose expectations from their marriage are very different from her own. This could deteriorate into a poor me story but there are no clear villains. In fact, the author owns up to her own questionable decisions without blaming others.<br />There is closure in this story but there is no dramatic catharsis or grand apology. In fact, closure doesn't come from neglectful parents or cheating husbands, it comes from within the author herself. She takes the best of both cultures, learns from the challenges of her youth and decides to forgive. In the end the reader does to.