Plot/Idea: Leigh's novel is fine-tuned, with a captivating storyline and impeccable pacing. As Olawu, the novel's namesake, aims to follow in her father's footsteps, she faces many trials and unexpected twists of fate that will keep readers engaged.
Prose: Leigh's writing is clear and picturesque, making for a very cinematic novel. The use of words and phrases in Zulu, Kiswahili, and Xhosa aid readers' immersion into the story's pre-colonial East African setting.
Originality: While there are many novels centered on colonial and postcolonial Africa, Leigh crafts a vivid pre-colonial Africa in this novel that will spellbind readers. Olawu's journey is incredibly unique, as she goes from wanting to be a doctor to realizing the seemingly impossible.
Character/Execution: Olawu is a beautifully constructed character, with a quiet self-confidence that serves as a strong foundation throughout her experiences—and eventually leads her to success. In a very different, but equally interesting way, Dikembe, Olawu's romantic interest, has a growth arc that is initially frustrating but ultimately pleasing. Leigh's supporting characters are multi-dimensional, resulting in appropriately complex relationships.
Blurb: A page turner that will leave readers both inspired by Olawu and rooting for her success.
Date Submitted: July 20, 2023