Title: Speak No Evil
Author: Uzodinma Iweala
Captivating, heart wrenching and complex: Speak No Evil drew me in immediately, reading less like a YA novel and more like a novel about teens in the style of a memory. Prepare to sink in and surrender your emotions to this short but necessary story of many different kinds of love and the torture that sometimes goes hand in hand.
You should know: this novel is about homosexuality, race, culture(s) and it also involves multiple kinds of violence.
Speak No Evil is the story of high school friends Niru and Meredith who come from very different but privileged backgrounds. Niru’s Nigerian parents have sacrificed to provide for him and his brother and defy the odds to get where they are, they tolerate little and expect a lot while Meredith’s parents are hardly ever home, travelling and leaving her alone with her thoughts in the brownstone. Each have bright futures ahead of them, the world at their fingertips. While both of their journeys and both families and cultures in question greatly vary, the raw energy and authenticity of their tense relationships jumps off the page. Ultimately the story is about the unintentional disclosure of a secret that sets off a senseless and heartbreaking chain of events neither are fully prepared for.
Reading this as an adult, Iweala’s writing immediately took me back to the feeling of adolescence and that blip of time at the end of high school that is so fully charged with anticipation, an extreme consciousness of emotions and the bittersweet knowledge that life as you know it as a student and child is about to end and life as you choose to make it as an adult is about to begin.
I found this a little hard to read, partly due to the nature of the content and partly due to the fact that the writing lacks some structure: dialogue occurs without the standard dialogue punctuation and at times paragraphs jump from past to present tense and actual dialogue to inner dialogue without the normal cues. Regardless, I could not put this book down. I’m telling you – I tore through this one, I couldn’t look away. I will say, I definitely preferred the first Part of this book over the second but both were necessary.
This is not a light read: often times difficult, sad and rough around the edges, I recommend starting it if you are prepared to set aside a day to feel all the feels. For fans of The Hate U Give, if you are prepared for something a little more raw…
Thank you to HarperCollins for this gorgeous copy of the book. I was provided an early copy to read in exchange for my honest feedback, all opinions are my own.