As a child Florence Ọlájídé was privately fostered by a white British family, like many other Nigerian children during this time as her parents studied. Reunited with her biological parents in Nigeria, we see her having to adapt to a life she is completely removed from.
Coconut: A Black Girl Fostered by a White Family in the 1960s and Her Search for Belonging and Identity is Florence Ọlájídé’s memoir, narrated by Adjoa Andoh, and I have to say Andoh really brings the story to life and vividly paints a story in the listeners’ mind. Most of the book was set in Nigeria, so it was interesting to see the changes that took place in the country, including the Biafra War as well as the numerous coups that took place during this time.
Despite the book presenting many issues of culture clashes, as well as painful experiences around discrimination these weren’t dwelled on, but told in a more matter of fact way.
For those familiar with the derogatory use of the term coconut – a Black person on the outside but white on the inside, this is not why the book has its name. Florence chose the name as it shows the duality of both influences on her life.
I have already recommended the book to my friends.
***Thank you to Netgalley, Hachette and Bookouture for this advanced audio copy in exchange for an honest review.***
For the purpose of my 2021 reading challenge, this book fulfils the Black Girls Read Too prompt – a book with a book with a Black girl on the cover and a book with a black and white cover (Popsugar).
If you want to find out more about the impact of private fostering on the former foster child, I would recommend watching Farming starring Damson Idris, which depicts the brutal autobiography of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (known for playing Adebisi in Oz).
This book is available from your usual retailers now:
This book sounds interesting, I love memoirs. 🙂 Do I need knowledge of Nigerian society and history to ‘get’ it?
Not at all.
You will however learn a little about the Yoruba people and some of their customs.
Definitely check out the book and let me know what you think.
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