Heart-wrenching, cutting, utterly compelling, powerful, soul-searching, and beautifully intimate. This is how I can describe Chinenye Emezie’s debut novel. For a debut novel, Glass House has all the markings of a classic novel. Chinenye has outdone herself with this novel and she should be congratulated for this is tremendous achievement.
Set in modern Nigeria and with a first-person narration, Glass House follows the life of Udonwa Ilechukwu from her teenage years to her adult life. Left with nothing but her family secrets, Udonwa has to confront the most-hidden family secret that will not only set her free but one that proves to her that the man she once revered as a wonderful father is actually the devil who is responsible for all her family’s dark secrets.
Dysfunctional marriages, abuse, hatred, sibling rivalry, homosexuality, rape, family secrets, religion are some of the themes that spice up the narrative.
While this is the most painful fictitious narration, it is, however, one of the interesting stories I have read in years with a more relatable cast. I was hooked from the first sentence to the last.
The characters invoked mixed emotions in me. It is Leonard though, who triggered all sorts of angry feelings in me for not only the crimes that he had committed on his daughters but also to how he treated his own father.
I liked how the scribe managed to control the narrative throughout by ensuring that one single event carries the whole plot to a point whereby, you as a reader, you have no choice but to read the story to the end. And this speaks about the brilliance of Chinenye as a writer.
Perusing through the pages of this novel, I had so many ahhh, WOW, WTF moments than I had never had before when reading a novel. Every page in this novel is such a big revelation of a family secret.
If there one way I can describe this book, I will easily say that this is one piece of writing that reminds all of us that we should refuse to be victims of our parents’ sins.
I think for South African readers this might be something of a strange fictitious story, because it’s almost rare to hear about incest incidents, but many Nigerian readers will relate to the Ilechukwu’s secrets.
Glass House is an extraordinarily compelling read. I highly recommend it as a healing ode.