Dysfunctional One by John Davies

An autobiographical memoir that focuses on his time living in the countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone, Dysfunctional One by John Davies tells the story of one man’s journey for survival as he strives against both chaotic governments, and a family that is often at odds. We follow John after his birth in a small village called Kissy Mess-Mess, which is located in the suburb of Freetown, Sierra Leone, in July 1954. From here the book is mostly told in a linear chronological order, as we learn about Davies’ parents who separated while he was young, and the churning political turmoil that existed in Sierra Leone, and the neighboring country of Liberia. John must try to find a certain sense of balance as he moves forward in life, trying to justify his love for his homeland while also recognizing that the places that he’s grown up in are not stable enough to raise a family of his own.

Coming in at nearly six hundred pages, Dysfunctional One is full of firsthand accounts and experiences from someone who witnessed a great deal while living in these two countries in West Africa. Moving from the slums, to places of higher power in the political sphere, Davies has a varied life story that was never once dull to read about. At times, the narrative could be a little dense as there is so much information being relayed to the reader, and not much dialogue placed throughout the book, but nevertheless, this volume is a reflective and revealing account about an area of the world that not too many people of the general public are familiar with. Reading in parts as a sort of text book, it could even be useful in college classrooms in the vein of African Studies.

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