Book Review

Wahala

Wahala

  • Author: Nikki May
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Publication Date: January 11, 2022
  • Publisher: HarperAudio

Thank you to libro.fm for providing me with an ALC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.

CONTENT WARNING: racism, grief, fatphobic comments, mention of abortion, infidelity, murder

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An incisive and exhilarating debut novel of female friendship following three Anglo-Nigerian best friends and the lethally glamorous fourth woman who infiltrates their group—the most unforgettable girls since Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda.

Ronke wants happily ever after and 2.2. kids. She’s dating Kayode and wants him to be “the one” (perfect, like her dead father). Her friends think he’s just another in a long line of dodgy Nigerian boyfriends.

Boo has everything Ronke wants—a kind husband, gorgeous child. But she’s frustrated, unfulfilled, plagued by guilt, and desperate to remember who she used to be.

Simi is the golden one with the perfect lifestyle. No one knows she’s crippled by impostor syndrome and tempted to pack it all in each time her boss mentions her “urban vibe.” Her husband thinks they’re trying for a baby. She’s not.

When the high-flying, charismatic Isobel explodes into the group, it seems at first she’s bringing out the best in each woman. (She gets Simi an interview in Hong Kong! Goes jogging with Boo!) But the more Isobel intervenes, the more chaos she sows, and Ronke, Simi, and Boo’s close friendship begins to crack.

A sharp, modern take on friendship, ambition, culture, and betrayal, Wahala (trouble) is an unforgettable novel from a brilliant new voice.

Is it just me, or are the debut authors getting better and better each year? And while I just jumped into this book without fully knowing what to expect, whatever I could have come up with wasn’t ever going to be anywhere close to what this book gave. 

I listened to the audiobook, and Natalie Simpson did such a great job with the accents. There were a lot of Nigerian words that came up, and she conveyed the beautifully musical Nigerian-accented English in a way that made listening to this an even more enjoyable experience. It gave me a little taste of Nigerian culture by way of England.

When I first saw the tagline referencing Sex and the City, I was definitely expecting a more lighthearted book. And initially, it is. It’s just a few mixed-race women that meet up regularly to discuss their lives and the joys and trials that come up for them. But once Isobel integrates into their crew, things take a decidedly darker turn. And while her presence clearly took them in a negative direction, it frustrated me to no end that no one seemed to put things together.

Each of the women faces various challenges. They’ve dealt with bullying, frustration about their careers, how they are perceived in society as well as within their families, and problems about the way their lives are going compared to how they want their lives to go. That’s something that was easy to identify with, and I think we can all identify with a friend who isn’t what they appear to be. Although hopefully none of us have ever dealt with a friend like Isobel. 

She’s petty and manipulative, sowing discord between the friends without them even realizing it. It was easy to see it happening from the outside, since we get to see the various perspectives. But I could also understand how each character might have overlooked things, not being privy to everything going on in the lives of the other women in their circle. 

And even once their eyes were opened and we had all the pieces of the puzzle, the events at the conclusion of the story were absolutely shocking. I never saw that final twist coming. It was a masterful build-up to the climax, and she left enough time to wrap things up in a pretty bow. This is an amazing debut, and Nikki May is an author to keep an eye on in the future.

2 replies »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s