Night Dancer by Chika Unigwe

Estimated read time 4 min read

Si kele onye nti chiri; enu anughi, ala anu. Salute the deaf; if the heavens don’t hear, the earth will hear.”

We will not proceed with this review until I profess my undying love and loyalty to the best of authors (one of the best, sha), Chika Unigwe. With each of her books I read, I fall hopelessly for her writing style, narration, character development, depth, and understanding of human nature. She leaves me breathless with each chapter, and I love how she gives words to my deepest feelings and addresses critical problems while acknowledging her character’s humanity. Gosh, she writes without judgment…. this is love; I’m in love!

Now let’s get into it.

“We women are little people. Your mother forgot that. God forbid I choose to forget.”

Characters

  1. Mma: Heroine, she’s a bitter and isolated child at heart, and it follows her into adulthood, but don’t conclude too fast and don’t judge too harshly as I did….pain turns your mind upside down.
  2. Ezi: Born at the wrong time, she was ahead of her time. Although she was an emotionally negligent mother, society consciously misrepresented her as selfish and stubborn for daring to go against the norm, but she did her possible best in the situation. She was dealt a bad hand in this life.
  3. Mike: The eternal representation of trash and the patriarchy, but he was human. It’s not an excuse, but it’s a reason.
  4. Mama G: When the Bible said a friend that sticks closer than a brother, I’m pretty sure they were talking about her.
  5. Ezi’s Parents: Tradition and duty will forever be higher than love, but don’t throw the child out with the bath water.
  6. Rapu: I know I shouldn’t and that my problem should be with Mike, and it is, but I hate her and all the other women that act like her and disturb the peace of other people’s homes. She knew exactly what she was doing. But anyways, you don’t fight with a pig. Both of you will get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.
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My Thoughts

This book is a roller coaster that had me revved up to slap Mma, defend Ezi, squeeze Rapu and Mike, flog interfering in-laws, and all that, but it also made me really sad,

Night Dancer is real and portrays the one thing that many women still face today and feel too overwhelmed to fight. My consolation is that we’re starting to speak out and challenge the status quo of madness in our society, and wonderfully, I know a few men who would do it with us.

The themes were heavy on parenting, parent-child relations, and single motherhood. As much as Ezi was an emotionally negligent mother, she was a hurt woman with so much potential she threw away because she was in love (love dey pepper for eye), but to have that love returned with a slap and humiliation mbanu…. Ezi would have shrunk if she had stayed. She was so ahead of her time, and there’s an excerpt from this book that aptly describes her,

“It was her way of challenging tradition, one woman taking on her world.”

Mma reminds me of Adekunle Gold’s song and the lyrics, “If I had known the life I was searching for was looking me right in the eye oh, if I had known the life I was searching for was already my own.” This lifelong attitude of thinking the grass is greener on the other side is a lie and a disease. It’ll cheat you out of your good moments and blessings.

“She sang that song to celebrate her mother, celebrating all mothers, all good mothers who daily, silently, perform acts of sacrifice, immolate themselves in little daily rituals to save their children.”

Night Dancer is a salute to motherhood, the unseen, unexplained reasons they do what they do, and a loud acknowledgment of their sacrifices that we only come to understand with time, sometimes after they’re gone.

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The only issue was initially the tiny bit of lag, but I stuck with it, as the pace picked up

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Oghenetega Elizabeth Obukohwo

Hi I'm Tega, I am a microbiologist with a lifelong passion for reading, I fell in love with books as child (where I was briefly obsessed with Enid Blyton, lol) reading is simply my escape and hobby and sometimes doubles as therapy for me . My favorite genres are African lit, historical fiction, memoirs/biographies and fantasy. I do beta reading and post book reviews which you can check out on my Instagram @ te_ga_o.

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