“There’s change going on all around me. Yet I seem to be growing softer around the edges…”

Genre: Fiction
Pages: 320
Published: March 25, 2021
Rate: 4.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads Synopsis
An Ordinary Wonder is a story of the courage needed to be yourself.

Oto leaves for boarding school with one plan: excel and escape his cruel home. Falling in love with his roommate was certainly not on the agenda, but fear and shame force him to hide his love and true self.

Back home, weighed down by the expectations of their wealthy and powerful family, the love of Oto’s twin sister wavers and, as their world begins to crumble around them, Oto must make drastic choices that will alter the family’s lives for ever.

Richly imagined with art, proverbs and folk tales, this moving and modern novel follows Oto through life at home and at boarding school in Nigeria, through the heartbreak of living as a boy despite their profound belief they are a girl, and through a hunger for freedom that only a new life in the United States can offer.

An Ordinary Wonder is a powerful coming-of-age story that explores complex desires as well as challenges of family, identity, gender and culture, and what it means to feel whole.

My Take
There is a certain joy that comes from reading a well told, well written story, for the African person through the African lense as opposed to the white gaze. An Ordinary Wonder is that book.

This is a coming of age story of an African queer person, who is struggling with coming into their identity. Our main character is intersex and they know who they are but the people around them make it difficult to be their true self. I love how how Buki Papillon handled the intersexuality, with care and firmness and I appreciated it so much.

The writing in this book is so good. Easy to follow along and grasp. Buki does include African proverbs and mythology throughout the book which enhances the reading experience and I absolutely loved it.

“All around me is life. An electric buzzing like a hive full of happy, purposeful bees.”

The characters in this book are so well developed. I even got attached! I love how you can clearly see the characters different personalities through their interactions.

Oto’s reality is unfortunately one that many people, kids, go through and my heart really went to them. I just wanted to hug them and tell them that it will get better. I was so attached to them by the time I was flipping the last page I had to let out a sigh of relief.

An Ordinary Wonder integrates culture and identity while exploring religion, sexuality and gender. It’s a book that gives much insight to these especially in the African context and I highly recommend it.

Have you read An Ordinary Wonder? What did you think of it?