Girls Meets Book by Lolla Ijaoye


For me, books are portals. Portals to different worlds that, although lying flat on ink and paper, possess the ability to come alive in your imagination. The first book I remember reading was titled The King’s New Clothes, and from there, the floodgates opened. I read anything I could get my hands on. Other parents complained about their kids spending too much time staring at screens; my mother grumbled about my reading habits. It was not uncommon for me to hide in dark corners or squirrel myself away under the blanket to read. “Just one more chapter, Dami. One more” was my  mantra. That one chapter didn’t end until the candle burned out. To nobody’s surprise and my mother’s exasperation, I was already struggling with my vision by the time I turned 11. It turned out to be myopia, and to this day, I rely on extremely thick prescription glasses to see more than a few feet in front of my face.
When asked about the types of books I read, my answer is almost always the same. “Anything”. I will read anything as long as I can get past the first five pages. However, I do have some favorites. Romance (of course), science fiction, mystery, women’s fiction, and coming-of-age stories, to name a few. I also dabble or immerse myself in children’s fiction once in a while, because at heart, I’m still that little girl huddled under the blankets and giggling at the tale of the foolish king who walked around the village naked, believing he was attired in special invisible clothes.
The last book I read was titled Divine Rivals, by Rebecca Ross. It tells the story of Iris Winnow, who was forced to leave school and work since her brother went to war and her mother turned to alcoholism. Two gods and their ability to compel faithful worshippers to the front lines are at the center of the conflict. Iris is a journalist competing for a column slot at the newspaper she works at, but it appears like her aristocratic and haughty opponent, Roman Kitt, will take it instead. Iris seems to have finally found a friend and confidant when her letters, originally written to her brother, magically disappear under her wardrobe door and land in the hands of someone else. Roman, her sworn competitor, begins to respond to her letters, but she has no idea that he is the one doing so. While searching for her brother, Iris travels to the front lines of the conflict. There, she becomes a war correspondent and works in a makeshift hospital, witnessing the horrors of conflict firsthand.
Personally, I am a sucker for a good enemies-to-lovers story. The setting of Divine Rivals is a moment of global conflict. It has a historical vibe, but the addition of the gods and mythology gives this story its own special flavor. Fantasy elements, such as the disappearing letters, are subtly threaded throughout the story. The romance between Roman and Iris has a lot in common with an old-fashioned love story. Typewritten letters, a background of ugliness from war, and a drive to enjoy every moment when peril and death are nearby.
Grief, Iris’ and Roman’s, is a central theme of the book. It is about being powerless to choose your own path in life. Loneliness and connection are key themes. The messy nature of loving your dysfunctional family is also part of the story about finding love. My favorite part was how they taught each other to be vulnerable and take off their armor for one another, one piece at a time.

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Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.