3 out of 4 stars
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Evenfall by Imonlega Ebehi starts with a terribly lonely Omonye on a Friday night, as she is unable to contact her husband who is working abroad and will be coming home after many years away from his wife and kids. However, Lucky's phone is dead, and her anger turns to worry. He finally calls and when he goes home, she observes some things about Lucky that are not there before; something different about him that she could not fathom. She knows he has a mistress in the U.S. Aina is his ticket to stay and hold on to his job, so he says. Omonye seems accepting of this, but when she learns that the woman came with Lucky to Nigeria, she is flabbergasted. Is this the ax that will sever the line that holds her family? The things Omonye will do to rise above life's challenges and preserve her family are the highlights of this novel.
The book offered a glimpse of a country's beliefs, culture, and traditions; these significantly influenced the handling of the couple's marital issues. It took me a while to get used to the characters' names and I even wondered about how to read Lucky's name, assuming it is pronounced in a customary manner. Many times, I would back read to remind myself who was who.
What I liked about this book was the author's good sense of humor; there were many times that I chuckled and laughed at some situations. She was remarkably capable of making me imagine and visualize the scenes. I could even imagine the play of emotions on Omonye's face as she wondered her husband's peculiar behavior. The author's characterization of Lucky was clearly defined: irritating, prideful and selfish. He's such an unlovable person he made me mad at Omonye's weakness for him. Omonye's character was looked upon as uncommon in her country, where outspoken and opinionated women were castigated and labeled as witches. She was vulnerable and yet a strong-willed woman. She was funny and witty, even in anger. She was a loving person, determined to rise above all roadblocks in life. Her behavior was what made the novel hard to put down. She made each chapter glow with life.
On the downside, the author should have provided translations of the Nigerian words that she used so that the readers would have a firm grasp of the conversations and would not have to guess or assume what the terms meant within the context of the statements.
There were many grammatical errors throughout the book, which were mostly about missing punctuation marks like commas, periods and quotation marks. There were some misplacements, too. There were instances where two words were unseparated by a space. There were also some missing propositions. At one time, there was no space provided between two sentences. Acronyms such as SUG and CV were not provided meanings. In one instance, the letter "l" in Lucky's name was uncapitalized.
The author used flashback to provide a narration on how the two leads met, Lucky’s departure for the U.S. and his involvement with another woman. These narrations will provide the readers a better understanding of where the characters were coming from. However, there were chapters during this phase that I felt were unnecessary: those chapters about Lucky's brother. In addition, there was part of the book where I got a bit disoriented: when the following chapter returned to the present without so much as an inkling that the flashback in the previous chapter was finished. It took a few moments for me to realize the book was back to the present. Some characters were not properly introduced. Omonye's grandmother was sometimes referred to by Omonye as her mother.
I give this novel 3 out of 4 stars. I was prevented from giving it a 4 due to ubiquitous grammatical errors which led me to assume that this book did not undergo proper editing; local words that were untranslated and few unexplained acronyms. But despite these flaws, I could not ignore the book's entertainment value; the book was amusing, funny and informative, and the characters created by the author were very relatable and interesting. For these reasons, it does not deserve just 2 stars.
Those who enjoy reading about a country's culture, beliefs and traditions and relatable plot about relationships and life lessons will be engrossed in this novel. However, those readers who do not like to be distracted while reading the book due to the pervasive grammatical errors should skip this one.
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