BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘Aftershocks’ by Nadia Owusu

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, the host of the 80+ episodes of Book Stew, a 30-minute video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, featuring authors, playwrights, voice artists, and journalists.

‘Aftershocks’ by Nadia Owusu

This author shares a mixed-race family background with Barack Obama and Kamala Harris, all with African fathers.

In her case, her father Osei, an Ghanian-American diplomat, became her primary parent when her mother, an Armenian-American from Watertown, abandoned Nadia and her younger sister when they were small. With her father and stepmother, she lived in England, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Italy and Uganda while she was growing up.

After her father died, Nadia expected that her birth mother Almas would bring her to the U.S. to join her new family, but being rejected on the heels of her beloved father’s death led to trauma and a permanent feeling of abandonment.

In each home, there were loving family and friends for help and support, but that never made up for the fundamental losses. The book is set up to reflect the stages of earthquakes, as Nadia see her life as a series of constant eruptions of tragedies to be borne, at a cost that seems too high at times.

Her narrative includes many examples of blatant racism and colorism (being judged by the whitest complexion), and in each country Nadia lives, being Black means something different, even in Africa.

One of the most horrifyingly vivid scenes involves description of the death of her younger brother at the hands of police, so strongly told that the reader feels true relief when it is revealed as a most terrible nightmare.

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