Summary: Twice As Perfect
In Twice As Perfect, Adanna or Sophie as she’s known at school is the 17-year-old daughter of Nigerian immigrants whose main goal is that she excels at school and become a lawyer. Sophie is on the debate team and has zero hobbies. She does have crushes on two guys: Tayo, a fellow Nigerian-Canadian family friend and another Canadian boy on her debate team. Ada is fairly content with her life until the wedding of her cousin Genny to a popular Afrobeats musician, and her new poetry elective bring her back in contact with her older estranged brother whom her parents effectively disowned a few years ago. As Ada tries to figure out how things went wrong with her parents and brother, she starts experiencing doubts about her pre-charted career plans until things explode in her face.
This was my first time reading Louisa Onome‘s writing, and I loved meeting Ada and the rest of the crew. I listened to the audiobook, which I thought was fine. The narrator could’ve done a better job with the Igbo names and phrases, but she did her best, and only Nigerians will notice the incorrect/stilted pronunciations anyway.
The backdrop of a big, fat Nigerian wedding added plenty to the thrill of the story and provided a chance to showcase some Nigerian culture. Onome also does a nice job of showing readers how children of immigrants can feel non enough for both their parents’ cultures and their new culture. I imagine it’s a tough place to be. Ada is under such enormous pressure to follow a predetermined path (as can be common with Nigerian parents) that she doesn’t have the mental space to actually figure out what she wants. There’s no room to experiment or do electives just for fun; everything should have a purposed end.
There’s a weird almost-love triangle that resolves somewhat down the line. I didn’t particularly like either of the guys, but I guess it’s hard to have YA without a romance of some sort. Thankfully, both guys did do their best to look out for Ada when it counted. I liked Ada’s relationship with Sam her brother, and I thought the reason for his estrangement was plausible. I wasn’t a fan of his poetry, and I generally think it’s tough to have an artistic character because you have to create the story and then their own art (which opens you up to double critique).
The story was long, with many elements which mostly worked well together. Readers will find the resolution satisfying — if a bit too quick. However, the ending goes to show that immigrant parents can be tough, but they do care for their kids — even though it doesn’t excuse their often overbearing nature.
Overall: Twice As Perfect
Twice As Perfect is a relatable, heartrending young adult novel about choosing one’s own path despite immigrant parental expectations. Set against the background of a big Nigerian wedding, Onome celebrates Nigerian culture, while highlighting the plight of immigrant kids who sometimes feel “not Nigerian enough.” If you enjoy young adult books about family, this one will be right up your alley.