Y’all know I like to read.
A few weeks ago, I read Yejide Kilanko‘s debut novel “daughters who walk this path.”
“Spirited, intelligent Morayo grows up surrounded by school friends and a busy family in modern-day Ibadan, Nigeria. An adoring little sister, her traditional parents, and a host of aunties and cousins make Morayo’s home their own. So there’s nothing unusual about Morayo’s charming but troubled cousin, Bros T, moving in with the family. At first Morayo and her sister are delighted, but in her innocence, nothing prepares Morayo for the shameful secret Bros T forces upon her.” http://www.yejidekilanko.com/Books.html
The shameful secret that young Morayo struggles with is the sexual violence she experiences at the hands of her cousin. The assaults happen frequently, until one night at dinner with family, she finally tells of her abuse. The response is not what she would imagine. It is there, Morayo slowly begins to heal as she grows into adulthood.
Kilanko’s does an excellent job of showing how sexual violence shatters the lives of victims. Her story also details how cultural traditions/rigid gender roles can exacerbate the violence girls and women experience in their lives.
Morayo has to deal with her pain alone. Her parents refuse to acknowledge what has happened to her:
“At home, I could not get away from the unasked questions in my parents’ eyes as they lingered on my face. I no longer slept well at night, and my mind would play those questions over and over again (Kilanko, pg. 90).”
She finds support in her Aunty Morenike, who also was raped as a young girl. However, her family had a much different response. She helps Morayo walk the path towards forgiveness of self, empowerment, and love.
“daughters who walk this path” is a moving look at how sexual violence hurts not only individuals, but the whole community.
I definitely recommend folks include this book on their reading list.