The Read Around The World Book Club discussion

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June 2017 Kenya > Chapter 20 - 29

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message 1: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
The books blurb said that this is a book full of love and full of pain? How do you feel about it?


message 2: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
When I wrote the line above I had no idea how true this would be... The introduction of Petrus has confused me a bit and yet he seems a central character to it all. There is an underlying dread in this book, that is almost too much, because I think it makes her branch out too much in all directions without knowing where she wants to go. And it leaves me with dread because I feel that the 100 pages left now is not enough time to wrap it all up... I fear there will be storylines left unfinished.

Still, I think the glimpses of Kenyan history we get are worthwhile although they are not enough for someone to piece the overall Kenyan puzzle together, but then I guess this book was written for Kenyans who will be just too aware of it.

I shall hold back further judgement until I finish it know I think, I need to think about it more.


message 3: by Milena (new)

Milena Widdowson Love and pain - yes! So raw and so complex. Here are the parts that stood out for me:

I love the way that Ajany connects what she sees and learns ( and how deeply she sees) with art - she tries to process her immensely challenging world this way and it gives me hope for her future.

I thought the scene with the hairdresser was also life affirming, a moment of nurture in a situation of complete despair. A woman helping another woman out of instinct.

Akai as a young woman - wow. She was such a free spirit; independent, fierce and intelligent. A question asker and a boundary tester. Something life and soul changing must have happened to her a long the way in adulthood- what a sorrowful contrast; from a lover of life to a woman in much pain.

The violence in the expression of emotion between Ajany and Isaiah is striking. I see so much pain inside them without closure. The contrast with the tenderness that follows is stunning. That moment of inner peace when they are both able to sleep really spoke to me.

Ali Dida Hada is such a man of contrasts and feels very much like another lost soul to me- unable to find meaning on any significant level, latching on to whichever situation presents itself, never fulfilling any positive potential and never finding any form of lasting love.


message 4: by Deirdre (new)

Deirdre Metcalf | 17 comments I also wasn't sure what to make of Petrus at first.
It's really the flashbacks that keep me glued to this book, especially any flashbacks of Ajany and Odidi. I feel like their story is a love story in a way. I don't mean romance but family and sibling love. They have a special bond.
I also still think the writing style is beautiful.


message 5: by Ilka (new)

Ilka | 31 comments There's so little of the book left to go and I feel somewhat lost in it. Especially now that even more characters have been introduced with Petrus and Justina and Ali Dida Haba has become more important. I want to know what happened to Hugh Bolton more than anything, how his story ties in with that of Nyipyr and Akai, and all this introducing of new characters is annoying me. I feel the book is losing focus in this part and, like Mel, I'm apprehensive how it all will come together in the end.

Also what is up with all these men being almost bewitched by Akai? She is such a powerful presence in the background of the story, I hope she will finally enter the present-day narrative again. I liked seeing glimpses of her childhood because they served to somewhat explain the attraction, but I want to see her as an adult again because at this point, she is even more unrelateable than Nyipyr is and I just can't figure her out.

I hope Ajany and Isaiah can heal and get through this immense grief they are both experiencing, but it seems they have made the first step out of their destructive behaviour after their fight. If they can finally find peace when asleep, maybe they will make it to a place where they can accept their respective losses and move on. But I don't know what to make of them moving on together and hope that the love this book is supposedly full of does not refer to a love story between these two growing out of this.

I still enjoy the reading experience, but I feel very disoriented. There so much going on or rather so much just below the surface that everyone refuses to talk about and I personally need a more clear-cut narrative structure to really feel comfortable. But I guess that's also part of what makes this novel so powerful, because the confusion of the post-colonbialism period in Kenya is mirrored in the novel. Maybe we are meant to be overwhelmed and to not know what to pay attention to most, because there are secrets everywhere.


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