cover image Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil

Uzodinma Iweala. Harper, $26.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-128492-2

In Uzodinma’s staggering sophomore novel (after Beasts of No Nation), the untimely disclosure of a secret shared between two teens from different backgrounds sets off a cascade of heartbreaking consequences. The first of the book’s two sections follows Niru, a Nigerian-American high school senior and track star heading off to Harvard in the fall. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his immigrant parents, who are loving but traditional and strict. When they discover Tinder and Grindr messages from boys on Niru’s phone—apps Niru’s (white) best friend, Meredith, installed on a whim—a shocking, violent event occurs. To “undo this psychological and spiritual corruption,” Niru’s father beats him, then takes him to Nigeria to rid him of the “evil demonic spirit.” When Niru returns to school, he vows to stop his “sinful” behavior and make his father proud. But his desires still torment him—especially after he meets a handsome college-aged dancer named Damien. In the book’s devastating second half, a broken and haunted Meredith looks back on that tumultuous time six years later. Her Washington insider parents are moving to Massachusetts, and she’s returned from New York to help them move—and take care of unfinished business. The revelation of what happened the last time she saw Niru is devastating and speaks volumes about white heterosexual privilege. This novel is notable both for the raw force of Iweala’s prose and the moving, powerful story. (Mar.)