Jendella Benson’s debut novel, HOPE AND GLORY (William Morrow), celebrates Nigerian culture and close family ties.
Glory Akíndélé’s family are Nigerian immigrants living in London. She’d always considered her older sister, Faith, “a Stepford Wife,” consumed with her husband and toddler twins. Glory craved independence and needed to make her own way in the world. She was the prodigal daughter who moved to LA for her digital marketing job, never finishing university even though her parents thought she had.
She hadn’t yet succeeded in her career plans and put off returning to London because she feared her father’s disappointment, having nothing to show for herself. Glory struggled in LA—having panic attacks and needing therapy—but she’s a social media marketing expert, so her posts made her appear happy and successful.
Much to her family’s disapproval, she even stayed in the US during her brother’s accessory-to-murder trial, even though her family needed her support. Now, her father is dead, and she returns to London for his funeral.
After the funeral, Glory files her father’s death certificate in his desk files and finds the family’s birth certificates, including that of her twin sister, Hope. Glory had always assumed Hope died, but no one ever talked about it. In Nigerian culture, if a child dies, the parents do not attend the funeral, so they didn’t discuss her disappearance.
When papers spill out from a file, she sees a picture of herself, Faith, and Hope with a white couple in March 1993. As she would find out, all three children lived with the Markshams for a time in private fostering. But what really happened to Hope?
As Glory investigates her twin’s story, she meets an old family friend, Julian, who she comes to know intimately. Her investigation into her family’s history and secrets—and Hope’s fate—give Glory a keener understanding of her family’s dynamics and motivations, and a better understanding of herself and a new path for her future.
The Vibe & Art of Storytelling:
Benson gives readers an intimate glimpse into a young woman who’s lost and can only reclaim herself by better understanding her family members and where she fits into the family puzzle. Throughout, Benson’s story includes the nuances of Nigerian heritage and what it means to assimilate into a new culture as an immigrant.
Benson is a British-Nigerian freelance writer, Head of Editorial for Black Ballad—a digital media community for black women. She is also a photographer and filmmaker, with her work featured in popular publications, in the House of Commons, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, and at the International Center of Photography in New York City.
What I Liked Best:
The portrayal of the family dynamics in this Nigerian immigrant family, and how the search for one’s independence might just rely on the very complex family synergy they’re trying to escape.
Fans of culturally rich stories will love this book about a daughter trying to find her own way in a world of strict expectations and racial stereotyping, eventually discovering that the love and support from your family means everything.
You can also read this review at BookTrib.com.
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