I’ll keep saying how this book is titled “A Spell of Good Things,” yet nothing good happened from start to finish. This book was sad; it broke my heart, it had me thinking for days, and I imagined a different ending if some characters had made better decisions. I was up by midnight trying to find the right words to describe this book.
The book follows the story of two people from different social stratification. First, there is Eniola, a young boy in secondary school whose family is impoverished. They weren’t always like that, though; in fact, they might have been in the middle class until Eniola’s dad lost his job as a history teacher, and everything went south from there.
Then there is Wuraola, who is from a wealthy family. She’s a medical doctor in her residency, and just like any Nigerian medical doctor you know who works in a Public hospital, she’s stressed and always tired.
It was quite slow and not easy to get into from the beginning, but when I found my pace, I couldn’t stop reading. I could go on and on about the author’s writing. Given her swashbuckling debut, we all know Ayobami writes very well, so it’s safe to say she escaped the second book bug.
The characters in this book are very interesting, and we were made to follow their thought processes as the book was written from the point of view of 9 people. I think this is brilliant because I wasn’t confused at any point, there was a flow, and I liked it. The book’s characters elicited so many emotions from me; I just wanted to beat up some, while with others, I wanted to hug and squeeze all my money into their hands.
Eniola’s dad was one character I wanted to slap sense into. Hold on, I would like to say I understand a bit of depression and how it tends to suck life and light out of a person, but somewhere in my head, I also think that he was just proud and annoying and lazy. If teaching didn’t work out, I’m sure a responsible father would have done something else. He lost his job, not his hands, legs, or brain, for God’s sake. One thing I picked or that this book just reinstated for me is not to attach your self-worth to your profession; you are so much more than that. If I was his wife, I cannot assure you guys that I would have stayed married to him, and this is me being honest.
That brings me to Kunle. From his introduction to the book, I knew he was bad news. I did not like anything about him. His entire personality irked me, and I just wanted him to disappear. There is no valid reason for abuse. And I think that only cowards hide behind their fists. I hate that Wura was going to get married to this man. Even worse, I hated that he only proposed to her because of his dad’s political ambition. See, Kunle was not just it, please.
I liked Motara, Wura’s younger sister; she’s what we’ll refer to as “Gen Z.” She’s the last born child and maybe a bit spoiled, but I like how expressive she was., saying what’s on her mind when she needs to,- something Wuraola would never do.
Yeye’s character is also one that I like; aside from her being the regular Nigerian mother, the one that wants you to get married before thirty, there is so much more about her. She is so used to loss that she thinks good things in her life have an expiry date. I really wanted to hug her.
One of the themes explored in the book is family relationships. I especially liked the relationship between Yeye and her sisters, and it was beautiful to read. Another theme was politics and how it is really “a dirty game.”
Overall, this book made me extremely sad from somewhere in the middle until the end. As I mentioned earlier, I thought about it for days, and I think that’s one sign of a good book- it stays with you.
The saddest thing about this book is how relatable it is and how close it is to home. If you are a Nigerian living in Nigeria, you must have met an Eniola. The harsh realities of this country must have messed you up one way or the other, and the government has screwed us up too many times.
One thing I cannot wrap my head around is why children get flogged for lack of payment of school fees; I will understand this practice. Make it make sense!
PS: If you were expecting a Stay With Me, sorry to disappoint you, but this is completely different.
A Spell of Good Things was launched at Ouida Books in Lagos, Nigeria, in February 2022