Book Review: A Good Name by Yejide Kilanko.


Book Review: A Good Name by Yejide Kilanko.

Twelve years in America and Eziafa Okereke has nothing to show for it. Desperate to re-write his story, Eziafa returns to Nigeria to find a woman he can mold to his taste.

Eighteen-year-old Zina has big dreams. An arranged marriage to a much older man isn’t one of them. Trapped by family expectations, Zina marries Eziafa, moves to Houston, and trains as a nurse.

Buffeted by a series of disillusions, the couple stagger through a turbulent marriage until Zina decides to change the rules of engagement.

*Please note that this title has a content warning for domestic violence.

Book Details

Format: 275 pages, Paperback

Published: September 1, 2021 by Guernica Editions

ISBN: 9781771836012 (ISBN10: 1771836016)

Language: English

My Review of A Good Name by Yejide Kilanko.

Kilanko is a powerful writer, and I came to this conclusion after reading Daughters who walk this path.

A Good Name follows the story of Eziafa, the protagonist who has left his village, Oji in Nigeria to search for greener pastures in faraway America.

After staying for many years, and nothing to show for it, he is being pressured by his mother to take a wife and settle down. I love the way this book starts, and how it flows effortlessly like a river.

It starts where he meets Jovita Asika in an Igbo town hall meeting in the United States, and he becomes mesmerized by her beauty and grace immediately. He flirts with her, and she responds positively, and he makes advances at her.

Book Review: A Good Name by Yejide Kilanko.

I love Jovita, she is nice and carefree and fun, but Eziafa, clothed in patriarchy, finds her somewhat intimidating.

I love the fact that she knows what she wants, and has her own fun to the fullest. But I don’t like Eziafa at all. He’s too selfish and domineering.

Even when I’ve not really read deep into the book to find out his other traits, I caught a hint of his patriarchy, and his excess need to mold his women to every form he deems fit.

But Jovita who has lived all her life in America is not an easy prey. She’s not one to be bent or molded in obnoxious ways.

Book Review: A Good Name by Yejide Kilanko.

And Eziafa finds that disturbing. When he hears from Philip, his friend, that Jovita has a horrible past of living with his lovers, all Eziafa can think of is the embarrassment it will bring to him, if word gets out. He sees women as objects which must be shrunk and squeezed.

One important theme Kilanko talked about in this book is the theme of segregation. Though Jovita is the same tribe as Eziafa, his mother would not hear of it, when he finally tells her he has seen the woman he wants to marry.

Because apparently, Jovita’s ancestors dealt with Eziafa’s and it is an abomination for both villages to get married.

A Good Name by Yejide Kilanko

This mind-set should be erased already. People should not be held back from pursuing their futures simply because of what happened thousands of years ago. And it’s sad that this keeps happening in Nigeria.

Even people of the same tribe run away from a particular group because of ancestral wars. It is not supposed to be so. People should be allowed to marry or befriend whomever they want, irrespective of their tribe, age, class etc.

As if Eziafa isn’t horrible enough, he judges Jovita for her past, and accuses her of being a loose woman, and then decides never to marry her. I was thinking he’d break up with her, but he won’t.

Even Philip, his best friend, advises him against that. There isn’t any need for him to string her along with no hope of marrying her, but he wouldn’t budge.

Book Review: A Good Name by Yejide Kilanko.

I was particularly annoyed because Jovita repeatedly encourages him to break up with her anytime he is no longer interested, but being a callous man, he won’t be civil.

He would rather lie he is going to Nigeria for a business, and then end up marrying a lady her mother has chosen. Imagine the kind of heartbreak Jovita feels when she hears this news from an outsider.

Eziafa finally agrees to marry an eighteen year old Zina, despite being thirty eight himself, and despite Zina’s subtle resistance. No, she doesn’t want to get married, she wants to go to school instead, and she already has a lover, Ndu.

But Zina’s mother has the final say, and if she says she should marry Eziafa, and Americanah, then she must do it, no questions asked. Forced arranged marriages should be discouraged.

People should be allowed to decide for themselves if they want to get married, when they want to get married, and to whom they want to get married.

In Zina’s case, her hands are tied, as the adults decide her fate for her. And all those silent resistance will come back to haunt all of them in years to come.

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Zina is exactly the kind of girl Eziafa wants to marry, young, naïve and beautiful. He can mould her to whatever form he deems please, as she is not all these wide-eyed American girls who have no value for men, and challenge their husbands at any slight provocation.

But would she remain that sweet, naïve girl forever? You have to read the book to find out.

I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of the book. Truly, Kilanko’s mastery is unmatched.

And I was in awe when I found out that Chasing Butterflies, her other book I’ve read, is from Titilope’s story. Titilope is the divorcee Zina meets on her way to America.

It’s just as if Chasing Butterflies is a prequel to Titilope’s story in A Good Name. This book is written in simple terms, and safe for a few Igbo words thrown in here and there, it is quite easy to understand.

I recommend this book to everyone, as I thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus I didn’t foresee the twist at the end. I’ll rate it as 4.8/5.

Have you read the book? What do you think about it? Please share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on all social media platforms. Thank you for visiting Bookish Pixie.

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