“…her curiosity, her otherness, her obscurity matched those of even the most different of the agile creatures of the wood.”
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: 2 April, 2020
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Rate: 4 stars
A novel of exhilarating range, magical realism, and history—a dazzling retelling of Liberia’s formation. Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel, She Would Be King, reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight when the earth calls him. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.
Disclaimer: A copy of the book was sent to me by the publisher for review but all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.
I really loved this book. I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that it’s a debut novel. I fell in love with Wayétu Moore’s writing and it shines throughout the book. The plot has 3 different story lines where we follow Gbessa, June Dey and Norman argon at very different times of their lives. Each section has a different voice, yet they mesh up beautifully to bring about one solid story. I was in awe.
We learn different histories of Liberia, colonialization, plantation farms and slavery. Now my little history heart was quite interested in all this and at some points I had to pause and go to read more on certain topics mentioned. We stan a book that teaches!
“Someday you want time to do some things you never had the time to do. That’s all.”
She Would Be King is a back that is largely character driven, with the story stemming and ending from Gbessa. But if I am being honest, my favorite character is the spiritual wind. Every time she would show up I would get chills. The book has some supernatural aspects, coupled with magical realism that contributes to the history of the characters, and the world they live in.
I think the only thing that I didn’t like was that in the middle the pace changed and so much was happening in a little time that I felt it wasn’t exhaustive as it could be.
Other than that I really did enjoy She Would Be King and it actually is one of my favorite book of 2020. I highly recommend it.
Have you read She Would Be King? What did you think about it?