Outskirts Press (2016)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (02/17)
In “When Everything Good Comes” by Oluwakemi Omowaire, we meet Molebi, who lives with her mother and two older sisters in a poor area of Lagos, Nigeria. Her father abandoned the family, in search of a woman who would bear him sons. Molebi’s mother hangs on to the anger that she feels for her husband for years. Despite this, she also stays true to her marital vows and works hard to provide an honest living for her girls. This is not easy, especially because there are men that want to take advantage of her situation and try to manipulate her into satisfying their desires for a price. She always turns them down, which sets a great example for her girls.
Molebi’s two sisters are attending universities. This creates additional financial strain on their mother, yet the girls all try to help with working when they can. Molebi is often viewed as lower class when she runs into people that she knows while she is selling homemade bakery treats, yet this does not dissuade her from doing what she must do to accomplish her dreams of attending a university. Molebi and her sisters have a great deal of curiosity about their father. Molebi likes to think that he might secretly be following their progress. The truth is, however, that he deserted them and left them in poverty. They live in a tiny, roach infested apartment that is often without electricity. Their mother could have eased their situation by accepting help from her husband’s family, but she refused because she was afraid that they would try to claim her daughters.
In spite of their circumstances, the family finds many reasons to laugh. Molebi especially enjoys people watching, and she often astutely can sum them up, in a way that is humorous. Her metaphors and similes are very funny. Looking at life through Molebi’s eyes is eye opening and entertaining. As she matures through the pages, we can see that she will be a fine young woman with a good heart. When one sister becomes famous on a TV reality show, people start reappearing in their lives, and the return of one of these people holds the biggest surprise of all.
“When Everything Good Comes” by Oluwakemi Omowaire is a heartwarming, well written, coming of age tale that is sure to be enjoyed readers of all ages. Looking at life through the eyes of a teenager, being raised by a single mom, in Nigeria, will make readers reflect on the need to be more appreciative of what they do have. It is also a reminder that money does not make for a happy family, it is the goodness that is in the hearts of the individuals that brings happiness, no matter what their circumstances. This would be a great selection for a high school reading list or for a reader’s group. Lots of interesting discussion is sure to follow.