‘Wahala’ is the debut novel by Nikki May.
Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London. They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English. Not all of them choose to see it that way. Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her urban vibe yet again. When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them. Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.
This book is simply brilliant, it’s a debut that is a witty and charming story about love, friendships and unsettledness that made for absolutely great reading. ‘Wahala’ is Nigerian for trouble and this book was certainly trouble for me, as I was reading it into the late hours but it was totally worth it!
The story is seen through the perspective of best friends Ronke, Boo and Simi, three mixed race girls who have a strong bond. They’re all at a crossroads in their lives, Ronke is wanting to settle down with her boyfriend Kayode, even though Boo and Simi think he’s unreliable and a bit of a flake much to her disappointment. Boo is unhappy in her life of doing the same thing each day and wants more from her outspoken little girl Sofia and french husband Didier, whilst Simi is enjoying a child free life, even though her husband Martin actively wants to add another person to their duo. All the girls lives were pretty quiet until the arrival of glamorous and ridiculously rich Isobel, Simi’s childhood school friend, who brings drama and charisma where-ever she goes.
The mix of personalities is wonderful in this story, Ronke is a kind and generous woman who’s loves nothing more than caring for others and cooking traditional Nigerian dishes, which sounded amazing by the way. She’s the one that Boo and Simi come to for advice. Simi is an interesting character that I found myself reacting to most, even though she has done well for herself, her father still treats her as an inferior, as she’s a female who didn’t go onto bigger things and this can make for sad reading. She’s content in her life, busy in London whilst her husband works in New York but they still have a great relationship and proves that absence does make the heart grow fonder. Boo is a disgruntled woman, who’s bored and is tempted by the greener grass even though she has a husband who adores and her little girl is almost as outspoken as her!
All these characters bring something vibrant to make this story fun, sassy and poignant. It’s also an interesting insight into the Nigerian culture, particularly their mouth watering cuisines, fashion and tradition and how they had to adapt their lives with moving to the United Kingdom.
I’ve been drawn to this book for a while and when I was offered the chance to read it, I jumped at it. The cover is wonderfully rich and vibrant and its title just screams ‘read me’.
Wonderfully written and flows at pace that was impossible to put down, ‘Wahala’ is an addictive and intoxicating story about love, greed and obsession that can easily be consumed in one sitting and is a joy to read from the first page.
You can buy ‘Wahala’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.