- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 935 KB
- Print Length: 352 pages
- Publisher: Quercus (10 Oct. 2013)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B007C4G06A
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer reviews: 76 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #238,424 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Where Women are Kings: from the author of The Language of Kindness Kindle Edition
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From the Inside Flap
Elijah, seven years old, is covered in scars and has a history of disruptive behaviour. His adoptive mother Nikki believes that she and her husband Obi are strong enough to accept his difficulties - and that being white will not affect her ability to raise a black son. Elijah's birth mother Deborah loves her son like the world has never known. Elijah thinks it's his fault they can't be together. Each of them faces more challenges than they could have dreamed of, but just as Elijah starts to settle in, a shocking event rocks their fragile peace and the result is devastating.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
From the Back Cover
When Nikki adopts seven-year-old Elijah, she knows there'll be problems. His background is troubled and he has a history of disruptive behaviour. But Nikki believes that she and her husband Obi are strong enough to cope - and that her being white will not affect her ability to raise a black son. Elijah's birth mother is ever present in their lives, and her love for her son is a constant reminder to Nikki of something that she can never be part of. Then, just as Elijah starts to settle in, an unforeseen event rocks their fragile peace, with devastating consequences.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
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This tackles very difficult and upsetting problems. It is insightful and very intelligently written. Every element in this story is part of the world we live in. People harm and people do their utmost to help and put right and they don't sadly always succeed. Emotionally this book is not in places the easiest of reads but it has its moments of humour and lightness. Once started you have to finish. I am very glad that I read it. Will always keep an eye out for anything new from Christie Watson.
Where Women are Kings will stay in my heart, and the characters will never leave me. Thank you to the author for creating such a spellbinding story of how a family is made and what happens to individuals when life is unspeakably cruel and love is just not enough.
I kept reading wanting more of something and even right up to the end, I never quite got it. It was a sad, but lovely story, in need of a little more depth.
Top international reviews
Masterfully written. I read it cover to cover as I could not put it down.
Literary books often tackle difficult and controversial themes. I know from past experience that many psychologically traumatic books are worth any psychological pain I might endure because these books can often deliver deep insight into the dark side of the human condition, insight that cannot be achieved through academic knowledge alone. Well-written literary books can also provide profound pleasure simply through their exceptional artistry. Many early reviews of this book described it as being exquisitely well-written; a few reviewers even went so far as saying that this book might be one of the best they were likely to read this year. All that caught my attention. In the end, I weighed the pros and cons and decided to read the book. I am not sorry I did so.
The book had an intense impact on me. I doubt I well ever forget it. It seared its way into my memory. I don’t want to scare you away from reading it. The book is beautifully written. The topic is important. I urge you only to pause before you make your decision and ask yourself if this type of book is right for you. Do you want this type of experience? Do you want this type of knowledge?
Through the book, I learned about religious ritual child abuse, specifically some primitive Nigerian beliefs in witchcraft and how those ancient beliefs can be carried into the heart of present-day London and practiced without any authorities being aware that such things are going on.
This book is a psychological portrait of a child and a family in crisis. The book takes readers deep inside the mind of the child; his mentally disturbed mother; his distraught new adoptive mother, father, grandfather, aunt, and cousin; and the many counselors and social workers assigned to the child’s case.
The child, Elijah, is an exceptionally beautiful boy born in England to young, hopeful, and idealistic Nigerian immigrant parents. When the book opens, we meet Elijah, as a seven-years-old in the process of being adopted by an English family. The adoptive parents are fully aware that Elijah is a survivor of significant physical and emotional abuse and that the child’s mother is committed to a mental institution. They also know the birth mother can never regain custody of her child because of the nature of the abuse and the severity of her mental disease. What they don’t know is any details about what actually happened to him. The boy has scars all over his body, but they don’t know how these scars happened; nor do they know about other forms of abuse that left no permanent physical marks. All these details we the readers—together with the adoptive parents and the social workers—learn over the course of the novel. There are other subplots that I don’t feel I need to disclose. You can discover these if you choose to read the book.
I don’t want to leave you with the impression that the book is primarily bleak. In fact, there are parts that are lovely and charming. After all, you can’t have a book about a child without theds being some touching moments.
Books on topics like this deserve to be written; however, not all readers will want to read them. The writing is outstanding, but not so remarkable that a reader would be missing out on something very special by choosing not to read it. Only you can decide if you want to allow your literary experience to include a journey into this heartwrenching realm.
Elijah is the son of Deborah and Akpan, Nigerian immigrants living in the United Kingdom. Although a devout Christian, her native culture still strongly influences Deborah. She is mentally unstable; Akpan’s sudden death sends her spiraling into madness. Convinced that a wizard lives in Elijah, she seeks to exorcise that being through various means inherent to her native culture, but judged abusive by authorities.
Placed in multiple foster homes, Elijah engages in potentially tragic, disruptive behavior. Nikki and Obi, a mixed race couple, take Elijah into their home with the goal of adopting him. As they deal with Elijah’s issues, only Obi’s father Ozoemena – Ozo – or “Big Daddy” seems able to understand Elijah’s belief in the wizard and to calm Elijah’s fears. However, a major life-changing event triggers a mental breakdown in Elijah, and the novel concludes with an emotionally charged scene that may bring you to tears.
Lyrical phrasing and carefully chosen scenarios make “Where Women are Kings” a wonderful novel that is a pleasure to read. Well-drawn characters and real-life reactions by those characters create a very believable story.
Throughout “Where Women are Kings”, Christie Watson weaves Deborah’s story into that of Elijah and his adoptive family. Alternating a chapter told in Deborah’s first person voice with a third person narrative involving Elijah helps build tension and anticipation in the reader that events will not be positively resolved. Deborah’s plight is one begging for sympathy, but one that sparks a feeling of horror in the reader. The emotional impact of this novel is significant.
“Where Women are Kings” is a novel you will read without stopping. You will be unable to forget Elijah or Deborah. This is definitely a 5-star book!
I don't think I am giving the story away by giving a few details not in the blurb, 7 year old Elijah is the son of the widowed Nigerian immigrant, Deborah, living in England. Deborah comes under the control of an evil evil man posing as a man of god who convinces her that her son have evil spirits in him, but that he can help her if she could only give him enough money, which she does. Enough to make me shudder, the treatments she is compelled to provide are a horrific series of physical abuse and mental abuse. Luckily for them all, Elijah is wrenched from her loving, adoring care when he is 5 years old, placed in foster care until he is fostered, at age 7, with family a desperate for children, Nigerian husband Obi and his British (and white) wife, Nikki. The story unfolds from there by Deborah and Nikki.
Eventually, Elijah is removed from Deborah's care and is put into the foster system where he encounters even more neglect and abuse. Finally a couple decides that they want to adopt him. Nikki is a Caucasian English woman and Obi is African, from Nigeria. They are aware that Elijah has been through hell and back but they believe that they can make a difference in his life. They are loving and accepting, patient and validating, providing Elijah with the stability and consistency he never had before. The only problem is that Elijah is seven years old now and he thinks that there is an evil wizard living inside him. At his prior placement, there was a fire that Elijah likely caused. Will Obi and Nikki be able to make enough difference in Elijah's life to counter the effects of all his abuse and deprivation.
Elijah misses his mama desperately and refuses to believe that she hurt him. He begins to love Nikki and Obi, calling them Mum and Dad, but there is no substitute for his mama with whom he hopes to be reunited with soon.
A team of well-meaning social workers and therapists work with Obi, Nikki and Elijah. Elijah loves going to play therapy with Chioma. He loves Ricardo, his social worker. He especially loves grandpa, Obi's Nigerian father. All this love and support around him causes Elijah to feel even more guilty because deep inside, he 'knows' he's bad and that the wizard that resides within him will cause pain to those he loves. As hard as he tries, Elijah can't keep the wizard from getting out, especially when he feels the wizard roiling in his gut.
This is not a light book. It is as serious as a heart attack. Child abuse and its long-term impact are at the heart of this novel. Christie Watson knows that the scars that abused children wear are not just external, but internal as well. She understands depersonalization. She understands that nurturing is sometimes not enough because the scarring can be so deep that sometimes nothing can touch it.
The characters are well-developed and Elijah comes alive throughout this book. He is a living, breathing boy, not a symbol of abuse but a human being who has suffered and is striving to overcome it. The book is told from different perspectives - letters from Deborah to Elijah, chapters from Elijah's perspective, and chapters told in Nikki's voice. As a clinical social worker, I found this book pain-stakingly accurate. I read parts of it while holding my breath. As I let my breath out, I thank the author for her gift to others, for providing a novel that explores the tough things in life; the suffering and pain that many children experience.
Well, my heart was breaking the entire time I was reading this haunting book. Elijah, a Nigerian boy, believes he is possessed of a different kind of wizard – the receptor of an evil power that lives within him. Wrested from his mentally ill mother, Elijah is cast into a variety of foster homes before finding his “forever” home with Obi, a man who shares Elijah’s Nigerian heritage, and his Caucasian wife Nikki who is eager for motherhood.
Both Obi and Nikki have chosen to give back in their professions although having a birth child has eluded them. They know that Elijah has been traumatized and needs special care and attention, and their hearts are big enough to accept the challenge. But they are not adequately prepared for just how wrenching these challenges become.
Christie Watson does not shy from painful issues: child torture, pernicious “faith”, alien belief systems, the difficulty of rehabilitating a loving child who believes he’s at fault. The characters – particularly Elijah himself – are totally believable and the narrative builds a momentum that makes it unputdownable.
That being said, this is not a perfect book. The narrative alternates between Nikki and Obi’s story and Deborah (the birth mother’s) story. Deborah’s chapters should have been written in third person; I did not totally believe her voice and from time to time, she seemed to be channeling the author itself in educating the reader on Nigerian ways. The foreshadowing at the end became quite transparent and leading. From time to time, I could tell precisely what Christie Watson wanted me to take away from certain passages.
That being said, I read the first 150 pages at one clip, unable to tear my eyes from the page. And far more than once, I wanted to reach into the book and comfort this little boy who wanted nothing but to be loved. 4.5, rounded up.
I read this in one sitting and I imagine you will if you have the time. It is fairly fast reading. It is a heartbreaker. If you can take heartbreaking fiction, this is most definitely for you. "Nuff said.
Possible SPOILER alert. This book does not have a happy ending. Where Women Are Kings is centered around a little boy named Elijah. His mother starts the story telling an unborn Elijah stories of she and his father in their native Nigeria and their relocation to the United Kingdom. Her stories include religious tales and wealthy pastors.
Deborah, Elijah’s mother is plagued with mental illness, and her husband, Akpan, dies. After his birth, Deborah is abusive to a young Elijah. He is eventually taken away from her and spends a few bouts in foster care. He is finally adopted by Obi and Nikki, who love him unconditionally, despite his mental illness inheritance. The demons are haunting young Elijah and he can hardly bare it.
This book was an interesting read. Not something I’d normally read. I enjoyed the angle Ms. Watson took, telling the story, initially from the mother’s point of view. As I stated in the beginning, there several spoilers in this review, as this book was probably one of the saddest I’d ever read. So sad, that it was hard for me to finish at first. I had to put it down and then pick it back up several times. The book is not slow in pace, but trying to take in each emotional piece was a bit much for me.
I’ve never read a title from this author, but am glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone just long enough to indulge in this touching story.
I wanted to read this book because I loved the author's first novel, Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away. And I liked this book, but I don't think it quite lived up to the very high standards set by the first one.
Elijah, a Nigerian child born in England, has been abused, his mother is mentally ill, and he is living with what everyone hopes is the last in a series of foster homes. You can't help but love this little kid, to cheer him on, to hope he controls his "wizard," but the early part of the book does not give much hope.
This is a heartbreaking story of a little boy who tries so, so hard, of his foster parents who desperately want to make this damaged boy whole again, and even of his biological mother who loved him despite all she did.
While I thought the writing was beautiful, it did not seem quite as lyrical as the first book. The story did not seem to have quite the same depth. Nevertheless, this is a lovely book although hard to read because of the child abuse. The characters had depth, and even social workers were not painted with too broad a stereotypical brush. There is a very wise granddad, a fearless cousin, an aunt who marches to her own tune. I came to know and love the characters. If you can stand to read about child abuse, I do recommend this relatively short novel.
I was given an advance readers copy of this book for review.