A girl is about to become a woman, not only because she is 18, but because she has also decided to lose her virginity, but to whom… She has shortlisted three men, and it is indeed a larger than life choice she has to make, because her decision will affect her whole life in every possible way. Reading the Ceiling by Dayo Forster is about a young woman’s choice, a choice not too common in the Gambia. One man, one night – who will it be?
The book takes us into the life of our heroine, Ayodele. Her choices will have a bigger impact on her life than one would expect. One path would take her to Europe, another one around the world, and the third path would keep her in Africa. Like many other books from Africa Reading the Ceiling tackles one of the most common issues in African literature – tradition meets modernity.
The subject is otherwise quite western, and atypical to African Literature in general. It makes it easier to read than most books from the region. It still has the bit of exotic Africa though, which pleases me, because otherwise we could just place Ayodele in London or New York.
Ayodele dreams of her perfect life as an adult. She will have a university degree, and a good life. She will finally get her mother’s respect. She definitely wants a different kind of a life from the one her mother ended up leading; a single mother of three daughters, abandoned by her husband, struggling to make ends meet. Well, who wouldn’t want something more, to be honest?
The book is interestingly written because it gives the reader three different stories, three different possibilities of the outcome of one person’s life. I have a vivid imagination, and I often come up with scenarios about what my life life could have been if I’d made different choices in my life. I believe many of us do this. Maybe it would be a good subject for all of us to write about . What would my life be like if I’d become a doctor, if I’d moved to Mongolia, or joined a cult? I have never been even close to doing any of the aforementioned things, but my life would be very different from what it is now. Life however never turns out to be what we’ve planned it to be. Quite frankly, that would be the scariest scenario.
Luckily for me I found this book from the Gambia, because yet again, there are not not many choices out there. I would have preferred to read something more Gambian. I have to be honest and say that I expect quite a lot from African literature in general, because of the rich culture and traditions. I understand that times are changing, but I still would want to understand these cultures and traditions better than I was able to through this book.