Book Review: Brimstones & Rainbow by Ololade Akintoye

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Title – Brimstones & Rainbows: Memoirs of a Child Bride

Author – Ololade Akintoye

Publication – 2020

Publisher – Narrative Landscape Press

Genres – Adult Fiction

In this intriguing realistic fiction, Ruby, an orphaned child bride who suffered from Obstetric Fistula, a debilitating childbirth complication, became stigmatised and ostracised from her community. Having lost everything in the village of Ojiji, Ruby set out to the city of Eko on a path to healing and recovery and a chance to find what lies on the other side of the rainbow

Trigger Warning – Rape, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Child Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation

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Brimstones & Rainbows is an insightful story. One which focuses on the plight many violated, pregnant pubescent, adolescent, preteen and teenage girls face when their bodies aren’t fit to push out the babies, which leads to obstetric fistulas. Many young girls who develop this medical condition have been forced to marry, raped, sold off, discarded or abused by the people meant to care and watch out for them over one inane reason or another.

It highlights issues in the society that are abhorrent when it comes to the treatment of young girls, the practice of female genital mutilation because God forbid they feel self-pleasure and how patriarchy has brainwashed many generations of men and women alike. To the point, they deem their inhumane actions as right.

Brimstones & Rainbows is divided into two. Book one shows us Iyunola’s childhood, her struggles and how she survives despite all the odds against her and Book Two portrays her life as an adult.

I believe the aim of Book Two is to give hope to people who are going through this. To remind them that contrary to the offensive statement “your life is ruined.” said by many Nigerians to violated young girls, that their lives are still theirs and not ruined. To let them know they can fully live, overcome their traumas and be happy.

The story starts when our main character Iyunola is 12 years old. She is a village girl who only completed elementary education. I had an issue with this because she used grammar far beyond her learning bracket, especially when she had little exposure to furthering her education and behaved too grown for a child who had grown up sheltered. The time jumps or scene cuts were also a source of confusion. These issues made the story not authentic enough. 

I had an issue with the choice of word used when it came to taking care of Iyunola’s obstetric fistula, saying Iyunola was going to get fixed rather than healed, rubbed me the wrong way, but it could be I’m just sensitive.

The way time flowed in this story brought about confusion, because it abrupt cuts from the present to past, to her thoughts, or we are tossed from Iyunola’s perspective into someone else entirely. I also found it odd that she was called Ruby by someone before she decided that was the name she would go by. 

One thing this book beautifully highlights is the lack of proper sex education to young girls if parents and teachers left the scare tactics behind and actually informed young girls about how their body works and the risks of having sexual intercourse I highly believe it would lead to more responsible decisions by young girls.

Even though I believe the portrayal of the story could have been better. I recommend this book because it educates and informs us about a medical condition that we really don’t hear enough about despite it being one people who can get pregnant should always be aware of and highlights the importance of therapy to overcome traumas.

Lara Kareem

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