Wahala by Nikki May

Wahala by Nikki May
Publisher: Custom House
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Ginger

An incisive and exhilarating debut novel following three Anglo-Nigerian best friends and the lethally glamorous fourth woman who infiltrates their group—the most unforgettable girls since Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha.

Ronke wants happily ever after and 2.2. kids. She’s dating Kayode and wants him to be “the one” (perfect, like her dead father). Her friends think he’s just another in a long line of dodgy Nigerian boyfriends.

Boo has everything Ronke wants—a kind husband, gorgeous child. But she’s frustrated, unfulfilled, plagued by guilt, and desperate to remember who she used to be.

Simi is the golden one with the perfect lifestyle. No one knows she’s crippled by impostor syndrome and tempted to pack it all in each time her boss mentions her “urban vibe.” Her husband thinks they’re trying for a baby. She’s not.

When the high-flying, charismatic Isobel explodes into the group, it seems at first she’s bringing out the best in each woman. (She gets Simi an interview in Shanghai! Goes jogging with Boo!) But the more Isobel intervenes, the more chaos she sows, and Ronke, Simi, and Boo’s close friendship begins to crack.

A sharp, modern take on friendship, ambition, culture, and betrayal, Wahala (trouble) is an unforgettable novel from a brilliant new voice.

The author presents a modern storytelling about three Anglo-Nigerian best friends Ronke, Boo and Simi. The characters are well developed with realistic personalities. The author gives the readers a glimpse into each of the character’s perspectives, their imperfections, their fears and their secrets. I enjoyed their friendship and the closeness the ladies shared. Will their friendship still remain when (Wahala) trouble comes?

Ronke is a dentist and the cook of the group who has a boyfriend she can’t depend on, and a client turned stalker. She wants the happy ever after but is her boyfriend Kayode actually the one? I wanted Kayode to act right or leave Ronke alone. He didn’t appear to be the strong man that she needed, so I agreed with her friends about him.

Boo made a statement “She made me hate my life.” when in fact that’s what she displayed to others. Boo seems to have the life that any woman would dream of. A husband, nicknamed Tubby Hubby by Isobel, willing to work and take care of things around the house, and a bratty 5-year-old daughter. But to her, her life is boring and unfulfilled. At times I didn’t like Boo, but then other times I could understand why she felt the way she did. She wanted someone else’s life, to be someone else but didn’t see that what she had a lot of women pray for.

Simi is her own woman with a doting husband who desperately wants to have children, but Simi isn’t ready to have children or to share this fact with her soon to be 40-year-old husband, Martin. I enjoyed the way Simi and her husband took time to talk to each other often despite the different in time zones. I wanted her to come clean with her husband on not wanting a child right now.

Even though the women were warned that the Babangari family was rotten, Isobel still made her glamorous appearance befriending the ladies and in her subtle and sly way wanting to know more about them. She starts out with friendly advice, working her way to gain their trust making everyone believe she’s an asset to the group. Even though I was suspicious of her to begin with, Isobel had a way about her that draws people to her. As the reader, I knew what was happening and I kept reading hoping one of the ladies would figure it out. I didn’t care for Isobel, but her character was well thought out and written. Isobel was able to find the ladies weak points and use it against them.

I enjoyed reading this book. It gave such insight on various cultures, languages and recipes. Their friendship circle does remind me of the reality housewives shows. The author created characters with personal issues that many women face. She revealed to readers the characters true self, their secrets and thoughts that for some reason they haven’t shared with others in their clique. At one point the ladies seem to have it all and then another they appear fragile and vulnerable.

The pace of the book flowed well. The author gave enough of their daily happenings, so it didn’t drown out the storyline. A few times, I wanted to rush the storyline, but I understood once I got to the end that it was part of the development for the ending. It’s an overall good read. It made me appreciate what I have and not take others for granted but to be open and not harbor secrets that could very well hurt others. There’s a saying ‘hindsight is 20-20’. Once the ladies’ world was shaken up, they each wanted to go back to what they had or it revealed a different way that they could have handled things.

An impressive read layered with culture and populated by characters that are so real readers may find it hard to forget them. This isn’t a housewife’s tale but a story of friendship, jealousy, betrayal and hopefully a tool so that you’ll see trouble when it comes.

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