A fearless young woman from a small African village starts a revolution against an American oil company in this sweeping, inspiring novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Behold the Dreamers.
ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, People • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, The Christian Science Monitor, Marie Claire, Ms. magazine, BookPage, Kirkus Reviews
“Mbue reaches for the moon and, by the novel’s end, has it firmly held in her hand.”—NPR
We should have known the end was near. So begins Imbolo Mbue’s powerful second novel, How Beautiful We Were. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells of a people living in fear amid environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of cleanup and financial reparations to the villagers are made—and ignored. The country’s government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interests. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. Their struggle will last for decades and come at a steep price.
Told from the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community’s determination to hold on to its ancestral land and a young woman’s willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people’s freedom.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This powerful audiobook highlights how vital—and tenuous—the connection between people and their natural surroundings can be. In the fictional African village of Kosawa, an oil company’s drilling operations are poisoning the water and killing children. The environmental degradation and struggle for survival has made the people of Kosawa feel powerless, but a young girl named Thula is undeterred. The second novel by Imbolo Mbue—author of Behold the Dreamers—is a hard-hitting drama about the victims of corporate greed. We loved Thula as a character, especially her rebellious spirit and voracious love of reading. An ensemble of narrators read the book in a soft-spoken yet supremely powerful way, echoing the tale’s David-versus-Goliath aspects. Ultimately, How Beautiful We Were is a story of how the bonds of family and community can give us the power to do the seemingly impossible.