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Speak No Evil

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  7,428 ratings  ·  1,237 reviews
A revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences.

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But
Audiobook, 7 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by HarperAudio
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,428 ratings  ·  1,237 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Are you lost if you know where you are going—just not how to get there?
Niru has a problem. Sure, his parents are well off. Sure, he will be going to Harvard after finishing his senior year at an exclusive private school. Sure, he is a pretty good athlete, more than holding his own on his school’s track team. Sure, he has a great bff in Meredith. Life is good, right? Well, not entirely.

When Meredith moves to increase the level of their relationship, Niru comes out. The core of the novel cen
Jessica Woodbury
I should start by saying that this is a book with queer suffering front and center. I have more to say later about that, but I want to get it up front. I know there are many other readers, like me, who need to ration out stories of queer suffering. I started this book months ago and had to put it down, always knowing I'd come back to it, but needing to be in a place where it would be easier for me to digest.

This is a lovely book and a difficult one. Niru is not a character we see often. He is u
Elyse  Walters
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When you’re gay.. you can walk down the street and not particularly stand out.

When you’re black, what you are, is seen on the outside.

Being black, Gay, with roots from Nigeria is a challenging birth card.

Being born a white heterosexual affluent woman - its easy to play a role in the violence thrust upon black men. Frightening!

To me - this is a community book worth talking about. I don’t think it matters how much we like it.....
pimples - flaws - it’s worth reading.
A sparse novel that tore through my heart in the best way possible, Speak No Evil feels like a grittier, darker version of The Hate U Give and a more modern, intersectional queer coming of age story than Call Me By Your Name. At first I felt distanced from our protagonist Niru, a gay Nigerian Harvard-bound high school senior who has only disclosed his sexuality to his best friend Meredith. But as the book went on the emotions elicited by the narrative - Niru's pain and longing and shame - won me ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-last-line
This book was beautifully executed...brilliant, in fact. I can’t elaborate without spoiling it, so I will instead sit in awe of this uniquely structured, gently (and gorgeously) written story that I thought was about one thing but was really about something else. Heartbreaking on so many levels, this will stay with me. 4 stars
da AL
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What's it like to be a teenager who's grown up amid the complicated push-pull of being privileged, American, Nigerian, and gay? Along with Niru, author Iweala does a remarkable job of illustrating characters, each of them good and bad, each of them representative of how mere good intentions are not enough. Audiobook narrators Onayem and Whelan are equally amazing. ...more
Read By RodKelly
I can say with no reservation that this book is going to be in my top five for the year!

Speak No Evil is a beautiful, heart-breaking storm of a novel that brilliantly weaves two powerful and painful narrative threads together. At the heart of the novel is the struggle of Niru, the 18 year old son of upper-class, highly religious African parents, to deal with his recently revealed homosexuality. After a gutpunch of a twist that I won't reveal, the latter half of the novel is told from the POV of
Jun 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, usa
When Niru, a high school senior in Washington who has already been accepted into Harvard, realizes that he is gay, his influential and very religious Nigerian parents are shocked, and his relationship with his best friend Meredith, who was secretly in love with him, becomes complicated. Yes, this is a coming-of-age story, and not a bad one, but it has a distinct YA feel.

The author, Uzodinma Iweala, is himself an American of Nigerian descent with influential parents (a neurosurgeon and the first
MaryBeth's Bookshelf
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Speak No Evil left me gutted, speechless, and heartbroken.

This is a coming of age novel told from two perspectives. First, Niru, a young Nigerian man with a privileged upbringing and extremely strict parents. When Niru's father discovers that he is gay, he takes Niru back to Nigeria to "cleanse him" of this evil. Meredith is Niru's best friend, with emotional struggles of her own. Meredith also comes from a family of privilege, where appearances are everything. One night at a party one mistake l
This one started out with so much promise, but then it took a weird turn, ended abruptly, and left me uncertain if its intended purpose was lost somewhere between the beginning and the end.

Niru is a closeted, Nigerian-American, male. He lives with his parents in an upscale D.C. neighborhood. His friend Meredith is apparently in love with him, but the feeling is not mutual. Once Niru discovers why he's not open to Meredith's advances, he lets her know. Meredith is understanding and supportive, bu
Kate Olson
ALL THE STARS and officially on my Best of 2018 list. Brief, searing and intensely readable, I must insist that every. single. one. of you read. this. book. I picked it up at lunch one day to try to at least get a start on it for the May @words.between.worlds (Instagram) discussion and finished it at 6 am the next day while walking the dogs. Because I couldn’t stop, even though I wanted the pain of the narrative to stop. If that makes sense?

(NOTE: this may be about teens but it is NOT a YA book
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This book reminds you that sometimes life holds unforgettable, irreversible devastation and heartache. I think this book could have gone further into satisfying, healing terrain. But it takes courage to understand that there may not be room yet for that kind of forgiveness or resolution in this particular story. Words take time. Until then we may have to exist in the silence, the refrain, the omission, the surrender. Let us hope we eventually find the words.
Alice Lippart
Gorgeously written and really emotional.
Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader)
I have been on an audiobook roll lately and hope to keep up the momentum. I am one who prefers to read an actual book, but likes to listen to audiobooks during my drives (or to make doing chores more bearable). There have been a few times where I felt that I had a better experience listening rather than reading and this here is one of them!

Narrator Prentice Onayemi starts the first part of this book and he was absolute perfection. I felt as though I was listening to Prentice – as Niru – tell me
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Did I really finish Speak No Evil the same day that I started it? Yes, yes I did.
This book is not one to be taken, or read, lightly. This book will snatch up your attention and drag you right in. And it will hold it. I'll admit the beginning was slow and a little off-putting for me but quickly began speaking to my heart. I ended with tears in my eyes and anguish in my heart. 4 stars.
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
The writing was good here, but the structure of the story needed work. The first part dealt with the son of successful immigrants coming to terms with his sexuality. The second part abruptly changed focus to race relations in the US. The stories were related, but the focus was different in each. Either story on its own would have been great, but I didn’t like the abrupt switch between them.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This slim volume packs a wallop. It's a moving gay coming-of-age story, a story about the ups and downs of close friendships, a look at contemporary racial and gender politics, and a beautiful exploration of the sacrifices we all make to fit into our communities—whatever those may be.

Of the two parts, I was partial to Meredith's. That's where, for me, the book took on a larger significance. Of the two voices, though, I preferred Niru's. *Spoilers Ahead* Niru's section initially left me feeling
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Barbara by: Kelli
“Speak No Evil” by Uzodinma Iweala is a novel that encompasses many themes. Narrator Niru is a first generation Nigerian immigrant who is struggling with his sexuality. His parents are wealthy and he attends a prominent private school. As the story opens, Niru has already been accepted into Harvard on early admission. Niru is a track star, he’s a perfect student, he’s a kid who wants his parents affection. Yet his Christian conservative father is always pushing him to be better, never providing ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
There were many effective scenes throughout the novel but also more than a few that misfired. Transitions between the vignettes were awkward to nonexistent, which only underscored the sense that this was a cut-and-paste creation. Still, the writing was often excellent.

3.5 stars
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a short (207 pages) but powerful novel. I’ve tried to write a review several times but have found it nearly impossible not to reveal spoilers. There’s a book I want to compare it to that would totally say too much so I’ll confine myself to a secondary story line.
There are 2 parts to the book, two voices and both are in the first person.
The first narrator is Niru, an 18yo Nigerian boy who came to America at a young age so culturally he is more American than Nigerian. He’s confused about h
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A heartbreaking story of a young black male struggling with his sexuality, friendships as well as existing in his community & a strict privileged Nigerian family. This was an intense read focusing on gender and racial politics. I found myself quite angry during the second half of the book. However, I loved that the story was told from two perspectives (Niru,a young black man and Meredith, a white female) & takes place in Washington DC. It’s always nice to recognize familiar places that you see o ...more
Darryl Suite
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars // This book did something I wish it didn't do. Although Part 2 is well written and devastating, this section is about a totally different subject matter. Several themes from Part 1 get cast aside; never to be explored again. Speak No Evil is a compelling novel, but I had some issues. ...more
Chelsea 🏳️‍🌈
Got approved to read an ARC! I'm super excited! ...more
Elizabeth George
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recomended-reads
Although this book follows the new trend of using no quotation marks and running long paragraphs (as did an earlier book that I didn't like), I did like this one a great deal. There's much more clarity as to who is speaking and what's happening, probably because the vast majority of the novel is told in real time. It's a combination coming-of-age and coming-out-as-gay, and it involves a Nigerian-American boy, his parents, the girl who has loved him forever, and her family. It leads up to an unex ...more

White Lies Cost Black Lives.
WOW. I finished this book and I sat staring in space for a good 20mins. I could do nothing else except mediate on what I just read. This is a solid 5 star, must read book. I am absolutely astounding as to how such a short story packs an unbelievable punch. This book tackles so many issues in the short amount of pages and does it in the most beautiful way.

Set in Washington D.C., "Speak No Evil" is about Niru, an overachieving young man to two wealthy Nigerian parents. Niru's got it all, he is a
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Three and a half stars. Very nice writing, dual locations in Nigeria and Washington DC, and a provocative setup: becoming aware of being gay in a family & church that is horrified by homosexuality, but the book lost focus in the second half when it shifted to a second protagonist.
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Now I am here and there is no going back. My father holds my passport and the tickets. I am under his control. The world around me feels out of alignment like a globe rattling and wobbling on its stand as it spins. As we leave the terminal, I can see where I’m going but with every step the ground shifts just a little and my sense of direction becomes confused.” – p 57
Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala follows Harvard-bound Niru, a first-generation Nigerian-American high school senior and his bes
Lauren Fanella
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is giving me a lot to chew on. It broke my heart. Stellar writing. Such a complex situation packed into a small novel.
Erin Glover
In burning sensual prose, Iweala paints us a portrait of a black teen in the throes of accepting he’s gay. When his strict, overbearing Nigerian parents find out, they ship him off to Nigeria for conversion therapy. During his exorcism, he never wishes that he wasn’t gay. Rather, he wishes he hadn’t shared his secret with his best friend Meredith who caused his father to find out. It’s difficult for Meredith to understand Niru’s fate. Meredith’s parents are rarely home giving her freedom Niru do ...more
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Uzodinma Iweala is a writer and medical doctor. His first book, Beasts of No Nation: A Novel (HarperCollins, 2005), tells the story of a child soldier in West Africa. His second book, Our Kind of People: Thoughts on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, will be released in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States in the summer of 2012. He has also published numerous short stories and essays and has worke ...more

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As we wrap up our 2018 Reading Challenge, we decided to ask our Goodreads coworkers a simple yet tough question: What were the...
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“Are you lost if you know where you're going-- just not how to get there?” 4 likes
“Niru, you're welcome to stay if you want, Ms. McConnell says to me without looking up from her desk. Without students in the classroom she is much smaller and more feminine. I stare at her legs visible beneath her desk and at the way her blonde hair falls about her face as she reads the New Yorker. Porn makes it look so easy, so casual, so routine. Older women are supposed to crave fresh young meat, to lick their pen tops absentmindedly while thinking about us, to squeeze their legs together in a good faith effort to keep from corrupting the younger generations. And I am supposed to stumble forward both confused and uncontrolled, pulled by my relentless desire like light towards a black hole. Except I am unmoved. I imagine Ms. McConnell naked, perched at the edge of her desk, legs crossed waiting for me to cross the room and give her what she needs. That's how they always say it, that they will take what they want, get what they need, that hardcore sex is good punishment for bad behavior. I wonder if it would set the record straight for me.

It's nice outside, Ms. McConnell says, you should enjoy the day. Her stare makes me feel like she can read my thoughts and I am suddenly embarrassed.”
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