Author: NoViolet Bulawayo
Cover rating: 3/5
Themes: Family, poverty, friendship, culture shock, identity, religion, abuse, mental health, identify
Summary: Darling is the narrator of We need new names and the story is divided into two parts
*Living in Paradise
*Living in America
Darling lives in Paradise with her mother and she befriends Godknows, Bastard, Sbho, Stina and Chipo. The children no longer go to school because most of their teachers have flocked to the neighbouring countries in search of greener pastures. Darling and her friends live in Paradise which is an illegal residential settlement and when the structures are demolished Nomviyo’s baby is killed. The kids spend their time stealing guavas in Budapest to feed their stomachs since they do not have anything to eat. Chipo, one of Darling’s friends is sexually abused by her grandfather and she falls pregnant but she is barely twelve years old. The group of friends have a lot of questions about how their friend fell pregnant. In the hope of trying to save their friend the girls even want Chipo to abort the baby. The political unrest in the country has seen parents bury their children. The group of friends end up imitating everything that is happening around them (the death of Bornfree). When Darling’s father falls sick he comes back home after so many years of being away and when he was in good health he would barely write or send money back home. The prophets also make money from robbing believers in the hope that their family members might be healed.
Darling was hopeful that Aunt Fostalina would take her to America and when she finally leaves for America she becomes homesick. When she wants to go back home her Aunt tells her that her Visa expired and if she leaves America she will not be able to go back. Many Zimbabweans left their home country because they wanted a better life but some of them can’t go back home since they came to America seeking asylum. Some Zimbabweans like Dumi marry an American citizen so that they can have a green card. Darling realises that life in America is not as she imagined since people have double jobs to sustain their families back home. Many people are like Uncle Kojo, they are homesick and even though they have lived in America for a long time they don’t have the papers. In some cases, people who have the papers have done unheard things to get them. When people are homesick they play music or eat foods that remind them of home with their countrymen. Parents in Zimbabwe miss their children and when they die their children cannot go back home to bury them.
Each day the residents without papers live their lives in fear of being deported. Darling feels that she is drifting apart from her family and friends and she struggles to have a conversation with them. Darling also realises that life in the West is a bit different from life back home be it culturally or the way of life.
I wish I could go on and on but what is stopping you from looking for this book?
“Because we were not in our country, we could not use our languages, and so when we spoke our voices came out bruised. When we talked, our tongues thrashed madly in our mouths, staggered like drunken men. Because we were not using our languages we said things we did not mean; what we wanted to say remained folded inside, trapped. In America, we did not always have the words”
Will I be reading a book written by NoViolet Bulawayo? YES
Do I recommend this book? YES