SHADOWS AND NOTHINGS
As a journalist, I have had cause to review a number of books. And I must confess, reviewing this particular book was not a task but an admirable pleasure.
Maybe because I have an unbreakable bond with fiction.
Below is my most recent review of what you would agree is an amazing piece.
Just few minutes and you’re done!
TONY NWAKA’S ‘SHADOWS AND NOTHINGS’: A 21ST CENTURY CLASSIC ROMANCE YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO MISS!
Tony Nwaka’s “Shadows and Nothings” is an intriguing prose that tells the story of two love birds who found themselves in an unpleasant twist of fate. Throughout the story until its end, they are torn between the options of drifting through the easy route by going their separate ways or having to fight the unseen but strong forces that threaten to tear them apart.
Julius is one not given to attending wedding ceremonies or parties of any sort because he saw the ceremonies as being overly cosmetic and somewhat boring. But obligation falls on him, when the younger sister to his best friend, Edolor was to wed. According to him, this was different.
And so having successfully dodged the church service, Julius excitedly finds his way to the reception venue at Lekki Phase 1. In the midst of the swimming crowd, his eyes notice a chocolate-skinned lady on long braids.
For the rest of the ceremony, Julius was not himself, as he lost both interest in the ceremony and appetite for his favourite meal of yam porridge, not until he finds an avenue to talk to the lady, whose beauty had stolen his heart at first sight.
She later introduces herself as simply Lauretta. He was quick enough to fish out his business card and hand over to her but the new golden fish was not as enthusiastic to hand him her phone number. She however promised to call him and within a flash of seconds, Lauretta was lost in the crowd.
The days that followed were as torturous as could be for Julius. He waited in anxious anticipation for Lauretta’s call which seemed not to come.
In desperation, he reaches out to his friend, Edobor, who rather than offer the needed assistance, reminds him of his ex, Evelyn who was more than willing to return.
Lauretta finally calls Julius after what seemed like eternity and they were able to go on a date. From the outset, Lauretta remained very vague about her background and who she really was.
Her weird conservative nature scared Julius but it seemed the more curious he was about this strange lady, the more drawn he was to her.
When things eventually begin to click between them, unsuspected forces set in. Julius’ ex-girlfriend, Evelyn having suffered a broken marriage, along with her mother, fights to get back into his life, holding on to the love they had both shared.
He also discovers that his new crush, Lauretha is the only child of the wealthy politician and one-time governor, Chief Alaba who happens to be a dreaded figure in the country.
Stories had gone round of how mean he could be and how he used his position to trample on the lives of people. Making the rounds was also the suspicion that himself and his family may be under some diabolical spell as a form of punishment for his wrongdoings.
Like they say, evil news has its way of travelling fast. Before long, Julius’ boss gets a wind of his affair with Lauretta and tactfully warns him to tread carefully. According to Mr. Adebayo, rather than gambling into such a sensitive area as marriage with Lauretta, he should pick a girl from any of the families he already knows very well.
Julius later disappointedly gets to know that his boss, Mr. Adebayo was having an affair with Ameze, Edobor’s younger sister: the same girl he was pushing him to marry.
In the midst of the pressure from his boss and friend, Julius also had to deal with the attempts being made by Evelyn to have him back by all means. She had tactfully lured him to a hotel where they both ended up in bed, thus complicating his situation.
While Julius privately battled with the forces that were trying to pull him from the love of his life, Lauretta also had her fair share of controversies.
She held on to the scariest secret of her life that had not ceased haunting her. She doubtless was in love with Julius but how could she explain to him that she had lost three previous relationships in the most mysterious way?
She fought the nightmare of explaining to Julius the fact that after her return from London, she had a love affair with Daniel, which was moving smoothly until they had sex. A week after the intimate affair, he mysteriously lost his job and that ended the relationship.
In case he chose to pass it off as mere coincidence, how would she bring herself to explain what transpired between herself and Clifford whom she dated a year later? As was expected, things were moving hitch free until he took her to bed. Exactly a week after that, he lost his mother in a ghastly motor accident, also bringing to a halt, the relationship.
She remained single for a long time and decided to try her luck with Shola, having waited for two years. Trying to play safe, she avoided sleeping with him until a year later. Seven days after they made out, he lost a multi-billion-naira road construction contract for which he had fulfilled all terms of the contract.
The thought of baring her mind of the worrisome experiences plagued her heart.
Fate however has always found a way of organizing circumstances.
Julius falls seriously ill and is bedridden at home. He reaches out to Lauretta to inform her of his sudden ailment and she promised to come over as soon as possible.
Julius, anxiously waiting for her arrival, gets a shocker as Evelyn walks into his bedroom unannounced. After a futile attempt to dismiss her, Lauretta walks in to meet the nurse attending to Julius.
The trio exchanged glances and Lauretta did not understand what was at play until Evelyn greeted her with a fixated gaze that spoke volumes.
After she left, Lauretta asked Julius about her identity and he explained it as a long story. It was not until her second visit that he told her the story behind the scene, which also served as a golden opportunity to bare her heart.
In tears, she recounted her ordeal, fearing he might decide to call off the relationship. At the end of her story, nibbling at her ear, Julius whispered, “My love, what matters is your ability to rise above these sad experiences and move on courageously with life. And you can trust that I’ll always be by your side to provide that comfort, care and companionship”.
His empathy brought fresh light upon her soul and she needed no further proof that he truly loved her.
Between that night and the next morning, they made love twice in his room and the countdown began for Lauretta. Days passed without much event except her mother’s constant dreams that spelt doom.
The seven days imagined ultimatum had barely passed when Evelyn stormed Lauretta’s supermarket to inform her that she was going to have a baby for Julius in eight months.
Lauretta thanked her for the information and fuming with anger, immediately tried putting a call across to Julius who failed to pick up. She had angrily driven across a few poles when he called back.
She shot it at him: “Julius, you’ve been sleeping with Evelyn!”
Before he could explain himself, he met with silence at her end, as she collided with a truck. All efforts to reach back to her proved abortive.
Tony Nwaka’s choice of ending can only be described as intriguing and one needs to read it for either a heartwarming climatic resolution or an unquenchable yearning for more.
‘Shadows and Nothings is an intense love story whose presentations resonate with virtually every reader’s experience.
To me, different from a handful of other love stories, Nwaka’s prose can be described as realistic. The protagonists, Julius Bassey and Lauretta Alaba were not separated from the harsh realities of life that usually surrounds love relationships.
The author was successful at deriding my
expectations from the outset. Many would often believe that love at first sight was usually a cramp of infatuation which does not last, especially if the object of attraction lies in physical appearance.
Surprise however sets in when a relationship that started off as mere flirt turns out to be solid enough for the partners to believe in and display their ability to withstand raging storms.
Effectively employing the power of description, the author was successful at mirroring the exact 21st century Nigerian society especially with regards to the craze for impression and visible show-off.
This was well painted in the pages describing the wedding reception of Edobor’s sister. From the flurry multi-coloured rays that had its source in the revolving stage lights that flashed across the hall, to the silk materials used for the décor down to the menu used to entertain the guest, everything spoke of class.
In this classic fictional piece, the author was able to, in an engaging manner bring the reader to terms with present realities of the African nation from where he wrote.
From x-raying the decadence that had come to beguile the nation, the book at the same time subtly and happily too, projects possible hope for a saner democratic system where the electorates can decipher between a sycophant and a true leader, thereby making informed electoral choices.
‘Shadows and Nothings’ was also successful at bringing to limelight, the often larger-than-life expectations relatives place on those in positions of authority and how they possess a sense of entitlement to public placements based on nothing other than shared bloodline.
The author uses the character of Daddy, Edobor’s father to send home some balance, with his view bothering on the fact that those in high profile positions deserve more sympathy and prayers than the very popular unfounded criticisms.
The story is told in seamless transition using clear and flawless expressions. As a writer myself, it often proves a difficult read going through a book laden with grammatical or what authors would easily spell off as typographical errors.
Quite commendable is the fact that in the entire261 a paged book, not a single grammatical error was detected; this speaks volume in describing the writing trajectory of the author.
Quite lucid were the connecting sentences and words. Nevertheless at very wide ranged intervals, the reader would have to consult a handy dictionary for added meaning. Again this also is an added advantage; after all what’s a good book if you can’t pick a few new vocabularies?
A critical look at the title, one naturally begins to wonder why the choice of ‘Shadows and Nothings’. But sifting through the pages, one cannot help but agree with the author.
There appear to be a lot of things and pursuits that we risk our lives to achieve and at the end of the day, we discover they were only shadows. It becomes rather a painful discovery when we realize that the essential object of our pursuit had been with us all along.
Evelyn would be in a more realistic position to explain this, especially when one reads her surrender-to-fate letter addressed to Julius.
Chief Alaba also had his share of shadow chasing when one considers the route of his political career and how he ended up having to live a ‘normal’ life after he lost the governorship election.
On a flip side however, Julius and Lauretta would tell you of a more intriguing side to ‘Shadows and Nothings’. The latter had for years lived in regrettable apprehension.
She was being haunted by the failed experiences of her past relationships. She feared the very worst as she delicately made way for Julius in her heart. Though a long road to discovery, she is meant to eventually find out that her fears could not have been better described than as ‘Shadows and Nothings’
Ever came across Francine Rivers’ ‘Redeeming Love’? Well, both books may have had very different plots but definitely have a shared central message: The redemptive power of love or what some may choose to describe as the triumph of love.
Yet to find a book cover that successfully combines creativity, aesthetics and story resonation as much as Nwaka’s ‘Shadows and Nothings’.
Beyond the black writings on brown pages that keep you smiling mischievously to yourself, the hardcover also proves to be an admirable addition to your reading shelf.
Described in one word, ‘Shadows and Nothings’ is class!
REVIEWER: EVELYN OKONMA
“SHADOWS AND NOTHINGS” IS AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS.
1. GABBS Supermarket, Opposite House of Assembly Complex, Asaba. Delta State.
2. . Profors Bookstore, No. 55 Warri-Sapele Road, Warri. Delta State.
3. Kraftbooks Limited, 6A Polytechnic Road, Sango, Ibadan. Oyo State.
4. Integrity Bookshop, EMAD PLAZA, Near BANEX PLAZA, WUSE II, ABUJA.
5. Radopin Supermarket.
No. 5, Secretariat Road,
By Aroma Junction,
Awka. Anambra State.
6. Igboahazia News Vendor.
By Post Office Junction, Ogwashi-Uku. Delta State.
7. JED MEGA STORES, THE PALMS/SHOPRITE, Lekki. Lagos.
8. Glendora Bookstore at City Mall (Shoprite) Alausa, Ikeja.
9. Glendora Bookstore.
No. 168, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi.
10. Glendora Bookstore. Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
11. Laterna Ventures Limited. No. 13, Oko Awo Street, Opposite Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. They can deliver to you in Lagos while you pay on delivery. Call 019049984-5 or
12. Calabar Cuisine,
No. 22 Molade Okoya Thomas St.,
Behind Zenith headquarters at Ajose Adeogun, Victoria Island, Lagos.
13. Bookstore at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos.
The soft copy of SHADOWS AND NOTHINGS is available on Amazon.com