ARC Review: Wake Me When I’m Gone – Odafe Atogun

Wake Me When I'm Gone
Book cover: A man on a white horse is on the right side of a tree. A woman and child are on the left side of the tree.

Everyone says that Ese is the most beautiful woman in the region, but a fool. A young widow, she lives in a village, where the crops grow tall and the people are ruled over by a Chief on a white horse. She married for love, but now her husband is dead, leaving her with nothing but a market stall and a young son to feed.

When the Chief knocks on Ese’s door demanding that she marry again, as the laws of the land dictate she must, Ese is a fool once more. There is a high price for breaking the law, and an even greater cost for breaking the heart of a Chief. Ese will face the wrath of gods and men in the fight to preserve her heart, to keep her son and to right centuries of wrongs. She will change the lives of many on the road to freedom, and she will face the greatest pain a mother ever can.

‘Wake Me When I’m Gone’ is a story of curses broken, and lives remade, of great tragedy and incredible rebirth. In this, his second novel, Nigerian writer Odafe Atogun unfolds a world rich with tradition and folklore, a world filled with incredible people of remarkable strength, a world that is changing fast.

I received an ARC of Wake Me When I’m Gone from Netgalley. I decided to request this book mainly because of the cover. However, the  blurb itself was also quite intriguing.

This book is #ownvoices for Nigerian representation.

Ese is an interesting main character. Her experiences and the people around her lead to her starting to question some of the customs in her village, which leads to her standing up for herself and trying to find a way to do something good for those who have less than she does. She’s strong in her convictions and believes in her own strength.

The writing is very simple and not at all flowery. It’s very on-point and rarely connects with other topics. There’s a very clear red line throughout the book. Most of the characters aren’t as developed as Ese is. I feel that this made the characters very one-dimensional, even though we do see an indirect mention as to how not everything is black and white later on in the book, when Duka meets Ese again. It is very clear throughout the book that the story focusses mainly on her and her development. Since Ese is the focal point of this story, most of the story is telling not showing, because she finds out about certain people and events through other people. I didn’t like this that much.

The topic of religion is introduced after a few pages. I thought that we as readers would find out more about how Ese feels about religion and how her belief changes, however we didn’t really find out much about her thoughts on religion. I was quite surprised about this, since it is mentioned quite regularly throughout the book, so I was expecting it to be discusses before the book ends.

Wake Me When I’m Gone is an interesting book that portrays how a woman started to realise that some of the traditions in her village were oppressive and how she finds the strength to change these rules. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style and in my opinion, some parts of the book could have been written in more detail. However, it was a nice read, and some of you are bound to enjoy this more.

3 stars

Are you interested in reading Wake Me When I’m Gone?


9 thoughts on “ARC Review: Wake Me When I’m Gone – Odafe Atogun

  1. Great review! Too bad this wasn’t as good as you’d hoped it would be – the cover is absolutely stunning. I’m a big fan of bare, minimalistic writing, though, as long as it suits the general subject matter of the book. I might give this a go. 🙂

    ~ Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks


  2. I’m actually quite glad that you posted about this one because when life settles down a bit, this sounds like one I would enjoy. One of my friends is a Nigerian immigrant and after reading a bunch of Adichie and Achebe and the like now I’m trying to branch out and read some lesser-known authors. The cover is gorgeous.


    1. All of my comments are by people who say they might like this more than me. I’m glad I did post it. 😀 The cover is amazing, isn’t it!

      Just so you know, I make a point of reviewing all the books I read, so I’ve got over 40 reviews on schedule, and you get opinions on all the books I enjoy. I did this because otherwise I might not post the books, where I had a more neutral feeling and I wanted you to get an idea of how I feel about books.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s amazing that you review all the books you read! I must admit there are many that I skip over so my blog tends to skew more positive than my actual reading (that and I don’t review books unless I finish them, and often read them twice). But I prefer when blogs include a wide variety of reviews, so I know which books to avoid.


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