While searching for a book to review for this week, I came across a lot of romances. However, I wanted something different, I didn’t have a name or word for what I wanted to read, but I just knew I would know when I found it.
I found it in ‘Fine Boys’, a book by Eghosa Imasuen. Don’t let the title fool you though, this is one of the deepest books I have read this year.
In fact I can categorically state that it is one of the best book decisions I’ve ever made.
Fine Boys is a story about Ewaen, a Benin boy growing up in Warri in the late 80s to the early 90s with his friends. It is a coming of age story that would be familiar to children of the 80s who like me, grew up in the post civil war/military era, witnessed the annulment of the June 12 elections, and the turbulence after.
It is against this backdrop that Ewaen and his best friend Wilheim, a biracial boy born to a Nigerian father and a German mother, gain admission into the University of Benin to study medicine. There, they make new friends and share various adventures and misadventures that would make you laugh, cringe and smile in understanding.
Some of the issues highlighted in this story was the boom in cultism that pervaded majority of the federal universities in the 90s. As most of us who lived in that age remember, many lives were lost to cult wars between different ‘confraternities’.
In the book, as it was in real life, freshers seen as rich, good looking and smart were especially susceptible to being courted to ‘blend’ and become a ‘confraboy’ and rejection could mean harassment for the rest of your school years, being tricked into joining or worse, unless you had someone inside looking out for you.
The story also touches on domestic abuse, the scars and pain it leaves on children forced to watch their father beat and abuse their mother. The need to control and manipulate another person, which often characterises an abusive person, is painted with its accompanying justification for the abuse. The circle of abuse continues, when the abused returns back to the home of the abuser.
Most importantly, this story is about true friendship, what loyalty really means and the sacrifices it may sometimes require.
The writer paints a vivid picture of life in the early 90s. Images of smoky kerosene lanterns made from tin cans as well as the more fancy one with the breakable glass, terrazzo floors, cortina sandals etc would bring a nostalgia for yesteryears.
I also appreciate that fact that this story was well edited and error free, as this often takes away my enjoyment of an otherwise good story. It gets a full five stars from me, and I don’t give that lightly.
The book is split into three parts, so it is a long read, but well worth it. Plus the three parts cost only a total of 150 Naira to buy from Okadabooks, so you are getting a great book at a highly discounted price. What’s more, the first part is free. You can thank me later.
Have you read Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen? What are your thoughts? Did it strike a chord in you like it did in me? Do share with me in the comments section.
Till next week!