coverReviewed by Lauren K.

Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan is a harrowing and heartbreaking must read for anyone curious about or outraged by the often unspoken atrocities that are so common in Africa. This novel grips the reader and pulls at all kinds of emotions from the start. Akpan is an excellent storyteller who puts the reader right into the thick of his story lines and into the homes of the characters.This intimate look allows for the readers to not only see what the characters are seeing but also allows for them to feel the intense emotions that are unfolding.

Say You’re One of Them was the first audio book I have ever listened to and I now plan to listen to many more. It was great heading to work and having a story stream out, making me think early in the morning. Say You’re One of Them is not a feel good read (or listen), but I did enjoy the experience. The book made Oprah’s prestigious book club list and it is easy to see why it did.

The audio version only contained three stories, My Parent’s Bedroom, An Ex-mas Feast, and What Language Is That. Each story contains a harrowing story from a different part of Africa. The most striking point about this book is that each story is told through the eyes of a child. My Parent’s Bedroom tells the story through the eyes of Monique, a young girl with a Tutsi mother and a Hutu father who witnesses brutality in her own home. Her pain becomes the reader’s own. I was not a fan of An Ex-mas Feast and was unable to get into the narration or really follow along. This story was about a young girl’s descent into prostitution so that her brother could go to school.The last story, What Language Is That, showed the unfairness of politics by showcasing how two little girls were unable to be friends because they were not of the same religion.

The narration of this book, through the voices of Robin Miles and Dion Graham, added depth and emotion to each story. If I had read this book, instead of listened to it, I would not have heard the anguish in the storytellers’ voices and had the same emotional reactions to the stories.Author Uwem Akpan did an excellent job with bringing life and passion to issues that many choose to ignore. I hope he will continue to write more about Africa and continue to raise awareness in the process.

For more information, please visit Uwen Akpan’s website.

Lauren Kirk is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to working on her own personal writing, editing Messy Magazine, and writing for multiple sites, Lauren is also currently pursuing her MFA in English. More of her work can be found at : messymagazine.org and goldiesays.wordpress.com.