Speak No Evil | book review

Title: Speak No Evil
Author: Uzodinma Iweala
Series: n/a
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 207
Publisher: Harper
Original Publication Date: 2018
Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary, LQBT

FIRST REVIEW OF 2019!!!!!!!

I hope you’re all as excited as I am for this new year of reading. I am confident I’ll reach my goal of 50 books. Only 7 days into the new year and already 1 book down!

I’m starting the year reading a few Tournament of Books titles. If you don’t know what the ToB is, please check out my post about this year’s books. I would love to know if anyone else is participating in the tournament!

My first book of the tournament, and my first read of the year, is Uzodinma Iweala’s Speak No Evil. I’d never heard of Iweala or his novel before, but that’s my favorite part about the tournament: reading books I may otherwise not. This book definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Speak No Evil follows best friends Niru and Meredith as they navigate the treacherous waters of senior year. But end-of-year exams and track meets are the least of their problems. For Meredith, it’s all about getting into Harvard alongside her best friend; for Niru, it’s hiding his true self from his parents. Niru is gay, and when his strict, religious father finds out, Nirus is faced with a painful decision: conform to his father’s wants and destroy his desires, or embrace his feelings and run from his family. Neither is ideal. What happens next changes the rest of both Meredith and Niru’s lives.

This novel punched me in the gut. The first thing I noticed was that there are no quotation marks. That makes it a little difficult to discern dialogue from thought, and to figure out which character is speaking. However I think the style gives the novel a unique tone and voice, so I got used to it and wound up enjoying it.

I thought the novel would be just another coming out story. I really related to the first bit of the novel and felt all the emotional jabs. But towards the middle the novel takes yet another turn and almost made me start crying in the middle of my office breakroom. I did not see this coming. Maybe I should have? But I didn’t. And it made the novel so much more powerful and heartbreaking. You know, you read or hear about bad things on the news happening to people you never knew or never met, but a novel is different. It’s a fictional person in a fictional world, but the problems are real. And after reading from someone’s perspective and getting to know them better than you know yourself, it’s so much different than a story on the news. Niru is a relatable character that you can’t help but love and sympathize with. But Meredith is just as important to the story. Niru goes through terrible hardships, but that doesn’t mean Meredith’s feelings and issues aren’t real. Though she may fade into the background at first, she plays a large role later in the novel.

It’s late and I’m tired, so my review is not great, but this book is great. If you aren’t thinking about reading it, give it a shot like I did. Reading out of your comfort zone is so so so important and really gives you new perspectives on social issues and life. This book definitely changed my thought on some matters. The writing is amazing and the story is gut-wrenching. I hope it makes its way through the tournament.

Favorite Quotes

–“I am tired and the progress is slow, but I continue forward because there is only so much time.”

My Rating

4 / 5 stars

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My name is Alyssa and I am a bookworm. I have a degree in English and am the metadata support clerk at Junior Library Guild. I am also the Lead Proofreader for Flash Fiction Magazine. Other than that, I'm just a loser who loves books.

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