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About Louisa Onomé
Louisa Onomé is a Nigerian-Canadian writer of books for teens. She has a BA in professional writing from York University. A part of the Author Mentor Match round 3 cohort, she is also a writing mentor and all-around cheerleader for diverse works and writers. When she is not writing, her hobbies include picking up languages she may never use, trying to bake bread, and perfecting her skincare routine. She currently resides in the Toronto area.
Sometimes, when I’m reading a book, I end up identifying with the quieter characters; ones whose motivations maybe are subtler, or ones who aren’t at the forefront of a conflict. I think I prefer it that way. I also think it speaks to my larger fascination with the small, subtle moments that make up really solid narratives. Our motivations aren’t always lived out loud. We are not always bold. But still, every now and then, a bold character will catch my attention and make me look at subtleties differently.
This is exactly what I felt when I first encountered Karina from Roseanne A. Brown’s A Song of Wraiths and Ruin.
First of all, Karina is unlike any Black female character I’ve encountered in YA. Let’s get that out of the way. Immediately, I would use the words ‘bold’ and ‘courageous’ to describe her. Her plan to resurrect her mother through an elaborate (but very sexy) marriage plot is the epitome of ‘bold’. She’s exactly what we would expect of an in-your-face female character, and it’s an added bonus that she is Black, she is worldly, and she knows exactly what she wants.
However, for me to say she is just bold and courageous is a little derivative because, as I continued to read, Karina proved to be much more complex than I first anticipated. She is a princess, she is strong, and she is powerful — but she’s also grieving. As Black girls and women, we often don’t get the space to grieve openly, if at all. Karina is on a mission to resurrect her mother, and within that, she goes through a spectrum of emotions. Grief, anger, bitterness, uncertainty. Karina’s journey through her grief and her anger (and the romantic arc with Malik) is immediately relatable because she is allowed to feel her feelings and we get to see them so candidly on the page. It’s revolutionary, truly, and while I read, not only did I learn more about Karina, I learned more about myself.
Softer, quieter characters with hidden motivations were always my thing, but Karina showed me that it’s possible to live out loud, get what you want — and have time to cry and rage and be all of our authentic selves. The crying bit is the most important. As Black women, we need the space to cry; we deserve this courtesy. This is why I’m so honoured to have read Karina’s story. Though it isn’t mine completely (I am not doing rituals to raise a dead relative, sorry to say), a part of her boldness and courageousness resonates with me and lets me know it’s okay to live life out loud more often.
Title Like Home
Author Louisa Onomé
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date Spring 2021 by HarperCollins Canada; Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon ● Chapters ● Barnes & Noble ● IndieBound
Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good.
Only, Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends on Ginger East with promises to “fix” it. Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama unfolding on a national scale.
Worse yet, Kate is acting strange. She’s pushing Nelo away at the exact moment they need each other most. Nelo’s entire world is morphing into something she hates, and she must figure out how to get things back on track or risk losing everything — and everyone — she loves.