My Life as a Chameleon
Lily’s childhood has always been fractious. The youngest of four in an Irish-Nigerian household, moments of blissful undivided attention from her mother are few and far between, as her father’s silent, yet overbearing presence, permeates the family’s dynamics. When her father becomes increasingly unwell, a violent incident leads to Lily moving to the UK with her older brother in attempt at a fresh start. But life in Manchester is just as complicated as in Lagos and Lily struggles to find her place in the world.
With the narrative fractured in two, switching from Manchester in early 90s and Lagos, Nigeria in the 1980s, the story spans Lily’s coming-of-age from childhood to young adulthood as she tries to come to terms with her complicated relationship with her father after his passing. Touching on themes of racism, domestic violence, bullying, abuse and bereavement, this is a story of a young girl’s search for belonging as she attempts to blend in with those around her like a chameleon. Although a tough read at times, Lily’s resilience and spirit shines through in this complicated depiction of family relationships.
A quietly powerful debut from Irish-Nigerian author Diana Anyakwo that would appeal to fans of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, here’s hoping for more from this talented new voice.