Reading lovers know that a good book can sweep you off your feet. Books can take you to another place in time and they can teach you new things about the world. For the month of February, Jenna Bush Hager has chosen a book that is sure to do all of those things.
This month, Jenna has selected "The Girl With The Louding Voice" by debut novelist Abi Daré as her Read With Jenna pick.
"It’s about this young girl, Adunni, whose voice, from the time she is born, is strong, loud and clear but because of where she is born and the circumstances of her life, she doesn’t yet know how to use it," Jenna told TODAY.
Book of the Month is a subscription-based book club that delivers hardcover books to your door at an affordable price. Each month, Book of the Month Club selects 5 hot, new titles – starting in January, one of these will always be the #ReadwithJenna pick. Subscribers then choose which book you want delivered — your first month is $9.99 with code READWITHJENNA and after that, it’s $14.99 a month. You can easily pause your subscription at any time or skip a month and roll your credit from one month to another.
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We first meet Adunni living in a small Nigerian village shortly after the death of her mother. Without her supportive mom ensuring she finishes her education, Adunni is forced into a loveless marriage by her father in exchange for money. For Adunni, her misfortunes only multiply from there. She ends up being sold as an indentured servant to a wealthy family, where no one will discuss the strange disappearance of her predecessor.
Despite the heartbreaking obstacles Adunni is forced to face, she refuses to let her voice be silenced.
On the heels of Jenna's recent trip to Vietnam, where she had the opportunity to meet brave young women who are overcoming extraordinary odds just to stay in school, this book shares an important narrative about women's rights around the world.
"Some of the things we take for granted," said Jenna, "She doesn’t get an education, she isn’t allowed to learn. Although it’s the fictional story of one young girl in Nigeria, it really is the story of so many others."
Daré draws readers in with Adunni’s fresh and unique voice.
"It’s her (Adunni's) voice," said Jenna, "While reading, there were times when I felt like Adunni was whispering, singing and in parts, crying to me."
While she wrote, Daré said it felt as if Adunni was dictating the story to her.
"It was very strange. It felt like she was sitting in front of me and saying, 'This is how you should write it.' I would sort of rewrite it until I felt that act (was) satisfied," Daré told TODAY.
The author explained that the story stems from her personal experience growing up in Lagos, Nigeria with young women working in her own home.
"I used to wonder why many of them were not allowed to sit at the dining table with the family or to watch TV and most importantly, to go to school," said Daré. "I had questions I couldn’t voice."
Much later, after leaving Nigeria and having her own kids, an interaction with her 8-year-old daughter caused the initial inspiration for the book.
"I recall asking her, quite politely, to help with off-loading the dishwasher, do some chores in the kitchen and she responded with a series of moans and a barrage of excuses. I felt quite frustrated because I said to her, 'Do you know that young girls like you would be working for families like ours in Nigeria?'" said Daré.
After an eye-opening conversation with her daughter, Daré felt compelled to look into the stories of young girls working as maids in Nigeria.
"That night, I read about a 13-year-old girl who had been scalded with boiling hot water by the woman who employed her," said Daré, "I thought to myself, 'I need to give her a voice, she needs to be human, she needs to be somebody that we can talk about.' And then from there, I started the journey of writing 'The Girl With the Louding Voice'."
In the month in which we celebrate love, this is truly a love story about one young girl whose resilience and grit drive her and whose voice grows until it is loud and clear.
"It is the most hopeful story I read this year," said Jenna.
We hope you will join us as we read "The Girl With The Louding Voice," by Abi Daré.
For past #ReadWithJenna book club picks, you can read the announcements for her March pick, April pick, May pick, June pick, July pick, August pick, September pick, October pick, November pick, December pick and January pick. Also, check out our Read With Jenna page.
To stay involved all month long, be sure to follow us on Instagram (don't forget to tag your photos with #ReadWithJenna), join our Read With Jenna Facebook group and follow along on Goodreads to continue the conversation about "The Girl With The Louding Voice."
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