I received a gifted copy of HOW BEAUTIFUL WE WERE by Imbolo Mbue from Random House! I also received an ALC copy from LibroFM!
Rating: 4.5 / 5
HOW BEAUTIFUL WE WERE is set in a fictional African village of Kosawa where chemical spills have brought tragedy to the residents. It is a place where a cough is likely a sign of permanent disability or death, especially among the children of the village. The people go to the American company responsible for the problem and they promise assistance and fixes to their errors, but little to nothing is done. The people of Kosawa are finally fed up and they decide to fight back, a fight that goes on for years with great losses.
This was a beautifully written but tough read. Major trigger warnings for child illness and death in particular. This is one that I had to read in segments because it hurt the heart. The book alternates between the perspectives of multiple characters and also includes the unnamed perspective of the village children as a whole. That perspective was especially heartbreaking as they talked about losing their age mates to illness and death, knowing the danger is real to them all.
The audiobook is really fantastic with a large cast of narrators to bring the multiple perspectives to life. I especially enjoyed the character and perspective of Thula, a woman who grows up in Kosawa and makes it her mission to improve the lives of the people of Kosawa and others.
I loved Mbue’s BEHOLD THE DREAMERS when I read it last year and the writing here is equally beautiful! I highly recommend this book both in print and on audio. I will be looking for more from Imbolo Mbue in the future!
#AroundtheYearin52Books – a book by an author on USA Today’s list of 100 Black Novelists You Should Read