Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Niru, a senior at a prestigious private school in Washington DC has the perfect life. His family moved to the United States from Nigeria. His mother is a doctor, his father a CEO, and his older brother a medical student. Niru is bound for Harvard in the fall. But Niru holds a dark secret—he doesn’t like girls, a sin that would bring shame to his strict family. He keeps this to himself until his best friend Meredith, who has long-harbored a crush on him, falls apart when he won’t respond to her sexual advances. He finally admits that he thinks he’s gay. She installs apps like Tinder on his phone. From these, his father learns of Niru’s sexual orientation and begins a quest to exorcise Niru of the devil homosexuality. Niru is trapped between what he thinks he should be and what he is. Madeline, daughter of DC political insiders, feels pushed away by Niru and nurses her own resentment towards him leading to a violent confrontation.

Certainly, this book was well-written and timely, but I just didn’t like it. I had a difficult time maintaining focus and I disliked virtually ever single character except perhaps the little seen Global Literature teacher Ms. McConnell. With Niru and Meredith being only eighteen, it’s understandable they would make a chain of poor decisions but it’s harder to tolerate the lack of empathy from the adult characters. Although the very end introduces some possibility of reconciliation and redemption, for me, it was too little and too late to redeem the book in my eyes.

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