cover image Pride and Joy

Pride and Joy

Louisa Onome. Atria, $27.99 (324p) ISBN 978-1-66801-281-9

Onome blends humor and pathos in her captivating adult debut (after the YA novel The Melancholy Summer), which finds a Nigerian Canadian woman attempting to find redemption by hosting her mother’s 70th birthday party. Joy Okafor Bianchi, a mental health counselor and recently divorced single mother, has taken on the task of hosting her mother Mary Okafor’s weekend celebration in the suburbs of Toronto, and she invites family and friends from across Canada and the U.S. to share in the festivities. The morning of the party, however, Joy’s 12-year-old son, Jamil, discovers that his grandmother has died peacefully in her sleep. The day also happens to be Good Friday, and Mama Mary’s sister, Nancy Akintola, comes to believe—after a premonition involving a brown cow on the side of the road—that her dear sister will rejoin them in the land of the living in an Easter miracle. Joy, despite her skepticism, finds some parts of herself wanting to believe her mother will walk through the door on Easter Sunday. Onome’s rich storytelling is enhanced by authentic descriptions of traditional Nigerian music and foods, such as Egosi soup and chin chin, as her characters come together amid great loss. Readers will savor Onome’s vibrant portrait of a family. Agent: Claire Friedman, InkWell Management. (Mar.)