Imagine this: being taken away from all that you cherish, all that you love and being thrust into a landscape that is frightening, bizarre and so incredibly different from all that you know.
This is exactly what happens to nine year old Lola Ogunwole. Born in London to Nigerian parents, her world is torn apart when her mother abandons Lola and her brother Adebola. They find themselves in a foster home until their father comes to claim them. Lola thinks that her troubles are over; but they have just begun.
Rather than lose both his children, he takes them from London to Nigeria to live with family members. Lola and Adebola are separated from each other for the first time in their lives. Adebola goes to live with an uncle in the small town of Lagos and Lola finds herself living with an aunt in Idogun.
Idogun is unlike anywhere that Lola has lived before. Poverty is rampant in the village and there is no electricity, no indoor toilets, and no conveniences. Only a hard life and a world so removed from civilization that Lola feels like an outcast. Her one constant, her brother Adebola, removed from her, Lola feels more alone than ever.
Her family does not make it easy for her either. For no reason that Lola can think of, her aunt hates her. She is made to walk miles and miles every morning for water. She has to learn to adapt herself to a life of hardship; a life of difficulty and a father that seems to be cutting himself off from her.
But like all things, time passes and hardships increase. Lola starts to change and mature. No longer is she the spoiled little girl from London. Lola starts becoming a woman. But when she is tested, when something so earth shattering happens that Lola does not speak for days, something inside her changes.
She knows that she must fight to get where she wants, otherwise her heart and her spirit will perish….
My brief summary of the plot does not do the scope of this novel justice. Told in diary format, we are really reading Lola’s journal; her inner thoughts, her inner demons are poured out onto the page for all of us to read. Because of her words, I find myself changed forever.
I can’t express how good, how utterly amazing, this novel is. The fact that this is Adeniran’s first novel is astounding. There is so much depth here, so much feeling and emotion that it is hard to believe I’m not reading the work of a seasoned writer. Imagine This is pure, unadulterated storytelling and the power of it is incredible.
Because it’s told in a diary format, we see into Lola’s head and her thoughts a lot more clearly than if the novel was told in first person or third person. Indeed, we get to read her private wishes, dreams and aspirations for the future.
After a while I forgot I was reading a novel and could picture Lola scratching away in her diary. I felt I could reach out and touch her.
Few authors are able to render a character so completely. Lola becomes not just a character on a page or words on paper. She lives and breathes alongside you as you read her story. I can honestly say I was blown away.
Few books have affected me as strongly as Imagine This and I know that my spirit carries a piece of Lola with me where ever I go now. I am haunted by her; by the sound of her voice in my head, her words on the page it’s hard to believe that Lola does not really exist. It’s hard to believe that I can’t reach out and touch her. This is the power of Adeniran’s amazing first novel.
Imagine This is not just a story, not just a novel. It’s about having the courage to face obstacles head on. It’s about finding the strength to survive and succeed that you didn’t know you had inside of you. But most of all, Imagine This is about the triumph of the heart.
If you read one good book this summer, make sure that it is Imagine This. Your heart will thank you for it.