Today I am absolutely delighted to share my review of The Baby Is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite as part of the 15th anniversary of The Reading Agency’s Quick Reads series. Designed to support and promote adult literacy, this initiative produces some absolutely brilliant reads, suitable to readers of all capabilities from some of the best authors around. To celebrate this special anniversary, for every title purchased by 31st July, another copy will be donated to help promote the joy of reading even further.
This years sees another six titles released including stories from Peter James, Louise Candlish, Katie Fforde, Caitlin Moran and Khurrum Rahman, as well as the book I’m reviewing here. Here’s what my chosen book is all about:
About the Book
When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout, and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib.
At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby’s cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby’s cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?
I love the Quick Reads initiative. Not only does it encourage a new group of readers to pick up a book, it also allows avid readers a great opportunity to test out new to them authors, with each title only running to around 100 pages. That was certainly the case for me with The Baby Is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite and I have to say I really enjoyed it.
Although set during the pandemic, this is not a pandemic novel as such. What it is, is a clever little family based drama in which three very different people are thrown together by circumstance and lockdown, testing them to their limits but also allowing one of the characters to discover a side to them that they, and me as the reader, probably weren’t expecting. The drama centres around three people – Bambi, his Aunt Bidemi and Esohe, a woman known to Bambi but who has no apparent cause to be in his Aunt’s home. There is a fourth person, the eponymous baby, Remi, who plays a very key part in the story, even if he doesn’t have much to say …
This story does feature a bit of a mystery, the two women at very cross purposes over Remi’s parentage, and it sees some very strange and unsavoury things start to happen around the home. Being just 100 pages this will not take too long to read, but I did find my thoughts about each of the characters changing over the course of the book, especially Bambi. Whilst he starts out in very unsympathetic fashion, called out for this roving eye, we do start to see a different side to him, his actions by the end of the novel leaving me with a smile on his face.
A story of family, infidelity, and trust, I really enjoyed this short story.giving me a taster of Nigerian life and capturing the pressures of being stuck with strangers during lockdown, without presenting it in an overbearing way. I liked the styling of the narrative and the way in which over just a few short pages the author had developed some very strong and authentic characters that if was possible to both dislike and yet feel empathy for, especially as the truth of the story is revealed. Top stuff.
About the Author
Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at Kachifo and has been freelancing as a writer and editor since. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self-published work.
In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam.
In 2016, she was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – find reading difficult, and one in three people do not regularly read for pleasure.
Quick Reads plays a vital role in addressing these shocking statistics by inspiring emergent readers, as well as those with little time or who have fallen out of the reading habit, with entertaining and accessible writing from the very best contemporary authors.
This year Quick Reads is celebrating its 15th Anniversary, which means that over five million copies of Quick Reads titles have been distributed since the life-changing programme began in 2006. To celebrate, for every book bought until 31 July, another copy will be gifted to help someone discover the love of reading.
This years titles are: