Faith or lack of; traditions and changes; elders vs youth; Nigeria and England; race, mental health, ghosts…its all there in this novel, but subtle to me. I was carried through this novel more on the voice and thoughts of the 8 year old central character, Jessamy Harrison. Jessamy is an outwardly intelligent girl. Her inner imaginative mind is equally as strong if not more. She either creates or is visited by “a friend”, Titiola, nicknamed TillyTilly by Jessamy.
Imaginary friend or ghost or mental illness, the reader is left to decide exactly what Jessamy is going through. Jessamy’s parents, a Nigerian mother and English father, are bewildered by Jessamy’s behavior’s and seek in their own way to “fix” her or at least comfort their own discomforts. They try a range of approaches, from indulging her whims, strict discipline, and talk therapy.
In the mix is “healing” Jessamy the family takes a visit to the mother’s family in Nigeria where Jessamy is befriended by TillyTilly who later shows up at Jessamy’s house in London once they have returned. TillyTilly and Jessamy’s friendship grows more and more problematic for Jessamy, her family and friends, which doesn’t end until a 2nd trip to Nigeria where the Grandfather is the only one who can clearly see what is going on with Jessamy and thus is able to solicit aid on her behalf.
Here is an excerpt that is the opening chapter:
(not sure why my link button will not work)
and here are other sources of interviews with the author:
Oyeyemi will be one of the featured authors next month at the Kentucky Women Writer’s Conference which lead me to check out her book from the library. Prior to the advertisement for the conference I had not heard of her.