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Say You’re One of Them

February 16, 2010


Say You’re One of Them

by Uwem Akpan

I am not a quitter. And that’s why it pains me to say that I could not finish this book. Since some of my favorite books are human interest stories this one seemed right up my alley, and I was thrilled to receive it for Christmas. The book is comprised of five short stories all narrated by children, capturing the horrible and often painful realities of those living and struggling in Africa. I started reading it right after Christmas and so it upsets me to admit that nearly two months later I am only finished with the first story. And I simply cannot go on.

The main problem with this book is the author’s writing style. Talk about confusing! Uwem Akpan, a Jesuit priest from Nigeria utilizes an odd French-English hybrid that I find impossible to follow. The fact that the author has an MFA in creative writing baffles me even further because the dialogue, the characters, and the timing is all very confusing and disjointed. Frankly, I am amazed that this book received such kudos by the reading community. How is this a bestseller? Other than the fact that Oprah put her stamp of approval on it I have no idea.

While I do believe the topic is relevant and important, I don’t understand how the average reader is supposed to make heads or tails of this book. All I know is that I simply can’t.

Per Ali the world will not come crashing down if I leave this book unfinished and for once I listened to his advice. So I am now a quitter. I hear that quitting one thing can result in a domino effect. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised if I stop finishing other books. Or if I quit making dinner. Or if I refrain from doing laundry.

I bet Ali will live to regret his advice.

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