The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi is the sequel to the 2012 novel Blunted on Reality by Chinedu Achebe. Three years after the historic election of Barack Obama, Obi Ifeanyi is settling into marriage and fatherhood with his wife Nkechi and their young son Ike. However the day to day pressures of being a husband and father is further complicated by the reappearance of his former lover Sade, and his wife’s involvement in her campaign for political office. While his past with Sade is full of secrets that could potentially shatter his marriage, it is his best friend’s engagement that unearths a family secret that forces Obi to confront his past and his present.
Though the premise of the story was good, I have to admit I was rather underwhelmed reading this novel. I felt like much of the drama took place very late in the story and the build up to it lacked the dramatic tension required to keep my interest and to have any real impact. A lot of time was spent debating ‘battle of the sexes’ type arguments, such as women often being expected to choose between a family and a career, especially with Nigerian – and by extension other African – cultures, as was the case with Obi’s wife Nkechi. This was all well and good but it was also very repetitive. In addition, I didn’t feel like there was much development of the female characters other than their relationship to Obi, their roles as wives and mothers or single career women looking to become wives and mothers if only they could find the right guy – namely Obi in some cases.
Similarly Obi seemed to spend much of his time moving from feeling resentful about the lack of sex he was now having, to reminiscing on his past love affairs all the while engaging in the debates with his family and friends about topics from religion to Fela Kuti. It wasn’t that these discussions were uninteresting because they are and they’re conversations that I would have with friends and family. It’s just that for me it didn’t seem to work well within the framework of the story. Other than Obi, you really didn’t get a sense of who anyone else was or why you should care about them. I feel like if more time had been spent developing the different characters and their stories rather than on the social discourses, it would have been to the novel’s benefit, and would have made for a much more enjoyable read.
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