The East-West Child by Zac Odetunde
‘The East-West Child’ by Zac Odetunde tells the tale of a thirteen-year-old girl named Jade Balogun who is torn between two worlds as she comes of age. Her parents hail from Nigeria, which accounts for her African blood and name; but her friends are all in London, which is where she was born and raised. On top of all this, Jade’s paternal grandmother is staying with her family for a short while, and Mrs. Balogun (senior) is stubborn and determined to make sure her traditional Nigerian beliefs on race, marriage, and family values are heard. With every move Jade makes, no matter how superficial or slight, she is constantly reminded of the divide between her family and social spheres and must decide to which ideals she should adhere. In the end, Jade choses what is right for her and finds a way to balance the differences that once confounded her and complicated her life. However, getting to that point isn’t easy, as the narrative of this book explains.
All told, ‘The East-West Child’ delivers a powerful message, though, at some points, the writing and storyline could be strengthened. The novel is written primarily in the form of dialogue, which leaves out a lot of the descriptive terms and omniscient character insights many readers expect in fiction. Near the end, the storyline progresses at a rather abrupt rate, culminating in a flash-forward arrived at without the details and developments needed for its support. Notwithstanding these things, however, ‘The East-West Child’ is still well worth the read. It addresses important topics like race relations, teen pregnancy, and generational differences from a positive, hopeful standpoint that’s sure to encourage tolerance and open-mindedness in any and all who read it.