Book Review: A Spell of Good Things by Ayobami Adebayo.


Book Review: A spell of good things by Ayobami Adebayo.

Eniola is tall for his age, a boy who looks like a man. Because his father has lost his job, Eniola spends his days running errands for the local tailor, collecting newspapers, begging when he must, dreaming of a big future.

Wuraola is a golden girl, the perfect child of a wealthy family. Now an exhausted young doctor in her first year of practice, she is beloved by Kunle, the volatile son of an ascendant politician.

When a local politician takes an interest in Eniola and sudden violence shatters a family party, Wuraola and Eniola’s lives become intertwined.

In her breathtaking second novel, Ayobami Adebayo shines her light on Nigeria, on the gaping divide between the haves and the have-nots, and the shared humanity that lives in between.

Book Details

Format: 352 pages, Hardcover

Published: February 7, 2023 by Knopf

ISBN: 9780525657644 (ISBN10: 0525657649)

Language: English

My Review of A spell of good things by Ayobami Adebayo.

This book is one of my 2023 most anticipated reads, and I am happy I finally got to read it. Trust Adebayo to always dazzle her readers and leave them spellbound.

If you have read Stay with me, by the same author, you will know you are in for a long, and exciting ride with this one. When I got the book, I thought I was going to read about good and happy things, because of the title, but it’s quite ironical.

This book introduces us to the lives of two main characters; Eniola and Wuraola. Eniola, a young lad in senior secondary school, has suffered a lot in his life. He and his family live in abject penury, after his father, a history teacher loses his job due to the undue retrenchment in Osun state in the early 2000’s.

Book Review: A spell of good things by Ayobami Adebayo.

And because of that, he slowly slips into self-pity. He refuses to do anything to provide for his family, but keeps applying for jobs he would never get.

Eniola’s mother does all she can to provide food for herself, husband, and two kids; Eniola and Busola. But she barely even provides a square meal, and they make do with whatever they can get.

I was deeply annoyed by the ridiculous nonchalance of Eniola’s father. How can a man be so unrepentantly lazy? I get the fact that he lost his job, but he didn’t lose his limbs too.

I loathe that stupid self-pity of his that if I had my way, I’d go right into the book, drag him out, and flog him mercilessly, till he regains his senses and becomes a better man.

He doesn’t ever step out of his house to fend for his family, neither does he take the littlest action in bettering his family.

It broke my heart each time I read about the beatings Eniola and her younger sister had to endure for failure of paying their school fees.

Book Review: A spell of good things by Ayobami Adebayo.

I love Eniola, I really do. He does everything he is asked to, in his family, and though the beatings he receives in school are nearly unbearable, he hangs in there, a little bit, hoping that one day things would get better.

And they would have, if his father wasn’t hell-bent in remaining in that self-destruct hollow.

A spell of good things by Ayobami Adebayo.
A spell of good things by Ayobami Adebayo.

Another main character in the book is Wuraola, a young medical doctor from a rich home. She is calm, and well reserved, and easily loved by her parents. Parents love children who stifle their emotions and simply do as they are told.

They love children who live their unachieved dream. The fact that Wura becomes a medical doctor is to fulfil her parents’ dream. Yes, she is a good girl, but what about the things she wants?

Book Review: A spell of good things by Ayobami Adebayo.

Then she is in a shitty relationship with Kunle. From the first scene the guy was introduced, I never liked him. Kunle is arrogant, jealous and self-centred, but masks all these attributes under his pretentious smiles and stupid kindness.

Men like him are the absolute worst; they prey on your vulnerability and gaslight you incessantly. Like when he slaps Wura on her mother’s birthday party, and then starts all the begging and sweet-talking. And Wura believes he would change.

Is he not human? He’s allowed to make mistakes from time to time. A little slap here, a little shove there… She can manage. But can she really manage?

There are many lessons derivable from this book. One, children are the sole responsibilities of their parents. I think Eniola’s parents, especially the father, do not really understand what parenting entails.

I understand the fact that poverty is hard to slip out from, but I don’t see them making any effort to salvage their family. They just love wallowing in self-pity and sabotage.

There is no reasonable business we know Eniola’s mother to be doing, but she always gaslights her children that she is trying; can’t they see how much she is trying her best to make ends meet?

Though she is kind, and never for once goes hard on her husband, I think she coddles him too much. If a man refuses vehemently to do anything for the family, I don’t think silence is the best answer.

She would have talked to her husband, or even argue, anything to make him stand up and start doing something. But she does none of that, instead she resorts to begging.

She begs the landlord, her brother for some money, and lastly, takes her children into the street to beg. Isn’t that the height of irresponsibility?

Her husband’s case is the worst. At least she provides whatever little food they eat. But the man of the house never stands up from the bed from morning to night.

And even though his children come back every day with swollen bodies from the beatings they receive from school, he still doesn’t do anything to make the situation better.

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If you know you will bring kids into this world only to neglect and suffer them, then don’t bother procreating.

All the children want is better lives; basic education, good food, and a happy home. But all they get is neglect, hunger, fear, pain and manipulation. And it is so sad.

Secondly, there is no excuse to be in an abusive relationship. No matter how a man or woman claims to love you, the day their raise their hands on you, is the day you walk out of that relationship.

Don’t think you will change anybody. You are not a rehabilitation centre. You deserve the love to try to give other people. But Wura keeps making excuses for her abusive boyfriend, till it gets worse.

Politics is also one of the prominent themes in this book. The author explored the theme of politics, and how it is a deadly game to be played.

Book Review: A spell of good things by Ayobami Adebayo.

One character I also love is Motara, Wura’s younger sister. She is the last born of the house, and allegedly spoilt, but I love how expressive she is. She has all the boldness Wura can’t even dream of having.

One thing she would always do is speak her mind, and doesn’t care what it would result to. Her mother always points out her bad behaviour, and refers her to her elder sister, Wura, to learn from. Her mother Yeye, always compares her to Wura.

Can’t she see how reserved and obedient Wura is? Can’t she be more like her? But in reality Wura needs to be a little like her younger sister, and not the other way around.

I also love how friendship is explored in this book. I love the friendship of Grace, Kingsley, Wura and Tife. This book has a great re-read value, and I will totally recommend it to every lover of good literature. I will rate it as 4.6/5.

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

A spell of good things by Ayobami Adebayo.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: A Spell of Good Things by Ayobami Adebayo.”

  1. to play a bit of devils advocate here: depression is a bitch, the black dog that hunts everyone irrespective of class or gender. Eniola’s father was already prone to this,it was alluded to in the few chapter we saw things from his POV. the sacking just tripled it effect. i think he was trapped between a time shift were teachers used to be revered to what we have now. for a man whose profession is so core to his self worth to suddenly do something else,something trivial is unthinkable. we saw this example in his (somewhat braver friend ) who rather than do something else took his own life. in the standard teacher’s attire (that was dark)

    and to his wife even her attraction to him was partly because he was a teacher. i suppose to her,marrying a teacher is the next best thing to being one. her undiagnosed learning disability (dyslexia) really set her up for failure despite her industriousness. so she can’t truly call her out her husband,she holds teacher in really high esteem.

    motara has all the characterstics people accured to gen z or x generation nowadays and each generation always thing it was smarter than the one that comes before it.

    my favorite character in these book is Yeye. as someone attune to loss,she was always waiting for the other shoe to drop,for the good things in her life to come to and end. even her husband ,a person blind to his own luck in life, surmise later into there marriage that: though she later learn to love him, she mostly married him for security. that is where that repeated quote about her “baubles costing more than her child school fees cost”

    we have been or know people like eniola or even his friend(shammu) that this harsh reality of life has truly screwed over. an average learner that loves knowledge for it own sake but despite his best effort is mediocre at it. his sister excellency despite similar life situation magnifies his own failure which is why the sophie choice by his mother truly hurt him at the end. i know our time with this character ends with the last page of the book but somehow i hope he finds peace. Wura too.
    i should just end this here.
    thank you for review.

    • Thank you for reading. I understand the depression part, but it isn’t the kids’ fault. I don’t think they deserve such suffering.

  2. I haven’t heard this book or author before. You have shared a really positive review. A book exploring friendship sounds wholesome. Thank you for sharing.



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