Alone in my bedroom which I have converted to an art studio of some sort, I have Falana’s Angelitos Negros playing on repeat as I prepare to be transported into the threesome world of the Diobis, the Adeoyes, the Nosakhares. This takes me from sitting to standing to lying on my bed to turning to sitting up to smiling and laughing and I just want to consume every letter of this book.
Stranger in Lagos is stuffed with the unique Sally signature suspense. Any attempt to explain the entire book in one sentence will leave you enthralled.
Meet Eniola. Sweet is the last word I would use to describe her but I don’t know when I finally agree that it’s not a bad choice of word. She is responsible for the death of her twin sister, almost kills her mum, fakes her friend’s HIV report twice because she is obsessed to steal her man yet at the end of this book I agree she is a sweet creature (Sally what have you done to me). Yes she dropped her baby on a busy highway to sleep walk but blame it on her mental state of mind which for no reason all the characters in this book failed to tackle properly. At the end of the day she commits suicide by overdosing on drugs. She is driven by her desire to be loved as well as a sense of entitlement over a man who doesn’t reciprocate the love. She sees him as a compensation for all she has gone through in life. Halimnye, her childhood friend before they were separated by life circumstances, is the flipside of the coin. She is surrounded by love and so many people that love her but she has no clue how to do same. This is until she finds out she is HIV positive and also that she was betrothed to a man because that was the clause her father gave before handing his life’s assets to his best friend before his death. Events force her to search for herself and she finds it in a fellow HIV positive stranger, Yemi who loves her and makes her a better version of herself but finally leaves her to pursue his career in America. I want to shake and slap Yemi at the same time but he is one character that brought so much meaning to this book. Halim sticks with him even when she finds out she is HIV negative nevertheless thanks to family bond, her ex, Eben remains a recurring figure in her life. Her career as a fashion designer is successful and so is everything around her. She is kind-hearted and finally forgives her friend and subsequent step-sister, Eniola. (Yes, it turns out the man she thought was snatched was actually her father). Dealing with loss and life transforming moments do not prove to be new to her but all’s well that ends well. She ends up with the man that seems life fated her. Ebenezer Delomo Nosakhare is unarguably the most confused man in this book but for the sake of posterity, let us stick to just calling him Eben. Stupendously wealthy and good at everything he does. He is both the chased and the chaser in this book so he loves someone that loves someone but he also has someone that loves him but he doesn’t love. Though successful, he seems to experience failure when it comes to making love choices. I like him though. That accident seems to correct his senses and he starts making better decisions. I however blame him for Eniola’s death. I mean, WHO LEAVES A BABY WITH A MENTALLY UNSTABLE WOMAN? He kept dragging his feet to commit his baby mama to a centre for proper treatment even when he had experienced her actions himself. However, I don’t want him to feel guilty so I will just keep quiet. (Do I sound angry?)
It’s indeed amazing how Sally bonds us with the characters in this book. She puts us right in the position of each one of these characters and it makes it easier to judge and not to judge their actions. Stranger in Lagos pulchritudinously touches on mental health and HIV in a way I haven’t seen most books do. It’s informative and educative about these topics and also had me researching more on HIV-serodiscordant and discordant couples. I am particularly in love and awe of how being HIV negative doesn’t make Halim from loving Yemi any less or even stop her from wanting marriage or children with him. Sadly, these are things Yemi doesn’t want to rush into and it has nothing to do with his status. I am however saddened by how Eniola’s mental issues are handled and this calls for more focus to be put on people who have a history of mental issues. Family background and upbringing play pivotal roles in the mental state of an individual and in Eniola’s case; her mother was her biggest headache. Her death was one that brought the families together but in a creepy way I am reminded that our dead relatives watch us when we are having sexual intercourse.
Stranger in Lagos is definitely not the typical love story and I must give kudos to Sally for proper location research. I have a problem keeping my butt in one place so I have been to most places stated in the book and it’s a beauty how she connects them properly. If this book was a movie, I would definitely give the location manager an Emmy. This is one book that can only come into reality with excellent writing, beautiful editing spotless grammar, great communication, suspense, twists, emotions and humor. I am in love with the use of words and I knew from the beginning I was in for a treat when I read about the “extracurricular activities”. It has the trademark Sally themes: family, love, infidelity, heartbreak, deception, money (lots of money) but this time it comes with a peppery sauce you would love. This is the eleventh book of Sally I have in my library and it lived up to expectations.