A question I am frequently asked is how do I prioritise my Book Review List for Advanced Readers Copies? For one, I love to check out initial reviews on my favourite blogs, magazines and Goodreads to get a feel for it.
I briefly touched upon ‘How Beautiful We Were’ by Imbolo Mbue in my pre-order list, but this is a more in-depth review.
In How Beautiful We Were, we visit the fictional village of Kosawa – beautiful and pristine, whose people live as one with Nature and the Spirit.
Then an American company, Pexton comes to drill for oil, pushing the village and it’s environment into rapid deterioration.
Although the villagers plead with them for help, it all falls on deaf years. Until someone decides to step up …
What I loved:
The book is very cleverly structured, told from multiple perspectives, which not only gave a well-rounded view of the plot, but also an in-depth insight into contradictory and unpopular opinions.
Set in the fictional village of Kosawa in Africa, it evokes a beautiful image of lush green hills, dense forests and also some very unsettling customs and traditions – it all eventually ties in to form a lasting image in your mind of a fictional place you might want to travel to someday.
The subliminal message that it carries about colonialism, land grabbing and subjugation of indigenous tribes makes for difficult but essential reading.
What was challenging:
There are some parts in the book, especially about 40% where the plot seems to start dragging. The chapter narrated by Sahel especially is really long. While I loved understanding things from her perspective, there were bits I wanted to skim read, example her monologue on how lonely she is and her attractions to other men stretched longer than I would have liked, it nearly took the attention away from the actual plot.
Imbolo Mbue is a new to me author and I am so grateful to have discovered her.
I quickly fell in love with her lyrical narration style and the talent with which she can tell a story from multiple perspectives and still keep a grip on the plot. This is a book that will fill you with nostalgia and a deep yearning.
Above all, How Beautiful We Were is also a powerful commentary on finding the balance between progress and sustainability, and the importance of preserving indigenous communities and cultures.
A compelling and a compulsory read for everyone this year.
Imbolo Mbue’s interview with The New York Times: Here she discusses her inspirations behind How Beautiful We Were. A worthwhile read that explores the years of work she put in towards the book and her life experiences that helped shaped the books’ narrative.
I’d like to thank Canongate and Netgalley for my Advanced Readers Copy. How Beautiful We Were releases 11th March 2021 and will be available to purchase from Waterstones, Amazon and your local bookstores.
P.S. links are guidance, Between Pages is currently not part of any affiliate marketing programs.
P.P.S : Cover image courtesy Goodreads.