Book Review: Tomorrow I become a woman by Aiwanose Odafen.


Review of Tomorrow I become a woman by Aiwanose Odafen.

When Gozie and Obianuju meet in August 1978, it is nothing short of fate. He is the perfect man: charismatic, handsome, Christian, and – most importantly – Igbo. He reminds her of her beloved Uncle Ikenna, her mother’s brother who disappeared fighting in the Civil War that devastated Nigeria less than a decade before. It is why, when Gozie asks her to marry him within months of meeting, she says yes, despite her lingering and uncertain feelings for Akin – a man her mother would never accept, as his tribe fought on the other side of the war. Akin makes her feel heard, understood, intelligent; Gozie makes her heart flutter.

For Uju, the daughter her mother never wanted, marriage would mean the attainment of that long elusive state of womanhood, and something else she has desired all her life – her mother’s approval. All will be well; he is the perfect match, the country will soon be democratic again and the economy is growing, or so she thinks …

Loosely based on the real stories of real women known to the author, Tomorrow I Become a Woman follows a complex relationship between mother and daughter as they grapple to come to terms with tremendous loss. This powerful debut by Aiwanose Odafen is a sensitive exploration of a woman’s struggle to meet societal and cultural expectations within the confines of a difficult marriage, a tribute to female friendship and a love story that spans two decades and continents against a backdrop of political turmoil and a fast-changing world.

My Review of Tomorrow I become a woman by Aiwanose Odafen.

Before I bought this book, I’d heard so much about it. Everyone on Bookstagram and Twitter had so much to say about it, how traumatizing it was, and I decided to buy it and see things for myself. They said it was as traumatizing as Ogadinma by Ukamaka Olisakwe, and so I read the book with an open mind, knowing already what to expect, and that is why it didn’t traumatize me so much as Ogadinma did.

Tomorrow I become a woman is a story about womanhood and the sadness and suffering that trudge beside it, which society has trivialized to the extent you’re perceived as a weakling and an irresponsible lady when you complain.

Uju, the protagonist of this book, has a bright future and is ambitious as the word ambitious itself. She does not want to merely exist as someone’s wife, but to live her life to the fullest, bagging degrees, doing research work, and having fun. But her mother does not want to hear about her dreams at all, because she is a woman, and in her books, a woman is not supposed to have dreams or ambitions. A woman should forever shrink beneath her husband, bearing kids and taking care of the house.

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This book is divided into three sections; Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Set in the seventies in Nigeria, the book gives us a glimpse into Nigerian survivors of the civil war, how they lived their lives, and how they would never fully recover from its trauma till they died. For some, their businesses crumbled and never revived. While others lost their precious family members and would never find them again.

The latter applies to Uju’s family, as her mother would never remain the same after her brother, Ikenna, goes missing during the war. She clutches her hope to her chest and believes she would find him one day. And even years after his disappearance, she would never let go of that firm hope of hers.

Review of Tomorrow I become a woman by Aiwanose Odafen.

As the only girl in her family, Uju is faced with so much pressure while growing up. There’s the pressure of being girl enough and working so hard to be a decent girl, worthy enough for marriage. She is not supposed to speak too much because no man would love her enough to marry her, and she is not supposed to go out and play with others, even though her brothers are allowed to party whenever they deem fit.

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Then there’s the pressure for her to bring a man home, and it doesn’t matter the kind of man he is. What matters is that he is interested enough to get married to her. And that is how Gozie comes into the picture. Uju falls in love with Gozie, the young handsome chorister she sees in the church on the day her best friends, Chinelo and Adaugo drag her to church. She feels she has finally found her man. What better place to meet the perfect groom than the church?

She makes the first move and Gozie notices her and asks her out, and in two months would propose marriage to her. Though she feels rushed and that she needs to take her time, her mother feels otherwise. Is she mad? Does she want another girl to snatch Gozie? Where else will she find such a perfect man? And that is how she marries a man she knows nothing about, a man who would beat her to a pulp at the slightest provocation, a man who would make her prefer the hospital even to her home.

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And to make matters worse, she gives birth to three daughters, and not a son to make her stand firmly in her husband’s house. In this part of the world, and in 2022 at that, the girl child is still seen as inferior to her male counterpart, and a woman needs to secure her place in her husband’s house by giving birth to a son that would be his heir. This is ridiculously wrong, as every child is a gift from God, and a child’s worth should not be determined by their gender.

When Uju complains about her husband’s mistreatment, her mother tells her it’s part of the ups and downs of marriage. Is it not just beating? What does she do to always provoke her husband and make him beat her? It is assumed that Gozie does not just randomly beat her, she must have done something to provoke him. And then the perpetrator becomes the victim and vice versa.

Most times parents encourage the mistreatment of their daughters. Instead of them taking solid action against the abuser and bringing him to book, they encourage their daughter to stay and endure. Think about your children. What will become of them if you run away? And then the woman stays and endures the clobbering, the beatings, the punching. It never ends well.

Even the so-called children, who you think you are doing a favor by staying behind, will end up scarred and traumatized for life. I love how Uju’s elder brothers beat up Gozie occasionally whenever he abuses their sister, but there’s only so much they can do. Their mother reprimands them and warns them to stop interfering in their sister’s marriage and focus on their own lives instead.

There are so many themes derivable from this book. One is the danger of domestic violence. In the case of domestic violence, the only person who should bear the blame and consequences should be the perpetrator and not the victim. Most times the victims are being cajoled into staying in abusive homes, because what will people say? The abusers have no right to abuse the victims no matter what. It does not matter what the victim does to aggravate the abuser’s anger. There is no excuse for domestic violence.

Review of Tomorrow I become a woman by Aiwanose Odafen.

And also women should not just be told to leave in order to live. What are the actions taken to bring abusers to book? Everybody has a piece of advice for a victim of domestic abuse, where are the ones that condemn the abuser for perpetrating the crime in the first place?

An important fact I learned from this book is that women do not truly have a home. When a woman is married, she is told by her family that she now has a new home, and she even changes her surname to prove that point. And when there is trouble and she comes home, they ask her to back to her husband’s home as she is no longer welcome in her father’s house. But her husband’s family does not truly accept her as one of them. If anything, they refer to her as a stranger who has just joined the family. So where does she truly belong?

I think the ‘for better for worse’ marital vow should be scraped off entirely. That has been a cage that would forever bind women’s hands and feet and glue their asses in abusive marriages. Women should be able to leave when the marriage becomes abusive and should not be scorned or mocked when they garner the nerves to leave. Most women prefer to endure abusive marriages because of the bad name it would give them. People would think they cannot take care of a home, and it is not right. Also, the belief that God hates divorce should be eradicated. A divorce is totally acceptable the moment a marriage becomes abusive.

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I also enjoyed the theme of friendship explored in the book. Uju, Chinelo, and Adaugo have been friends from infancy, and that friendship is passed unto them from their mothers. I love how they were able to stick by each other through thick and thin. They define the true meaning of friendship. I particularly loved the friendship between Uju and Akin, I thought it would blossom into a lovely relationship. They would have made a perfect couple.

Review of Tomorrow I become a woman by Aiwanose Odafen.

Grief is also an important topic explored in this book. We never truly recover from the loss of a loved one; we just learn to cope with it by hanging on a thread. And when the thread snaps, it appears again, and trudges beside us like a BFF and follows us to wherever we go. The effect of grief is inexplicable; it tears us apart and eats us from the inside out.

This book will traumatize you with its harsh realities. It will break you at the seams and make you question so many things. I like the fact that it portrays what women go through at the hands of abusers, and how they are expected to be superwomen and endure it all. Motherhood is another topic explored properly in this book, and I highly recommend it to you. I’ll rate it as 5/5, it definitely deserves that spot.

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 my social media platforms. Thank you for visiting Bookish Pixie.

Tomorrow I become a woman by Aiwanose Odafen.
Tomorrow I become a woman by Aiwanose Odafen.

13 thoughts on “Book Review: Tomorrow I become a woman by Aiwanose Odafen.”

  1. This sounds like a really interesting read and it’s certainly a book I’ll be keeping an eye out for, not just for me, but for my wife and daughter.
    A really well written review too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This sounds like a really interesting read and it’s certainly a book I’ll be keeping an eye out for, not just for me, but for my wife and daughter.
    A really well written review too. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for reviewing

    I disagree with you take on the part of marriage vow “for better for worse” to be scrapped, that part of marital vow is deeply rooted both Christain values in men and women’s evolutionary psychological mating strategy.

    That part never accommodates domestic violence.
    When a marriage relationship becomes a case of recurring DV, the victim usually the woman is advised to step aside for a while and seek intervention for immediate family, the people the husband will listen to, religious leader or even marriage counsellor.
    Then if it persist after such intervention and reconciliation, then the woman make her safety a priority by leaving.

    Secondly, if you are a Christain then you should know better, God hates divorce but still gave allowance for it both in the old testament via the Law of Moses and in the new testament with Jesus. In the old testament the a written document for divorce is legal, while in the new testament Jesus said the only ground for divorce is “ADULTERY” but “God hates divorce”

    • Thank you for reading. I’m also a Christian but I don’t think it’s okay to stay in an abusive marriage, just because God hates divorce. What if you die?


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