My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
When drama stalks the man you love, it is important to evaluate what you want...him or a drama-less life. Beautiful, sassy and independent Lola had to make that decision about her relationship with handsome and mysterious Wole in Tolulope Popoola's debut novel, Nothing Comes Close. For a romance novel, the twist and suspense embedded in the pages made it all the more delightful.
Last year, I had the honors of critiquing the manuscript. I was super excited to receive the published book in the mail earlier this month, and I was not disappointed. Set in the United Kingdom: London and Milton Keynes, and Lagos, Nigeria, Nothing Comes Close is an enjoyable read with an authentic portrayal of love, life and relationships.
The characters are three-dimensional, and readers will experience them from different angles of self while they evolve into who they had to become at the end of the book. Flawed, in love and very humane. The story-line is about more than Lola and Wole's relationship; we get a glimpse into Lola's struggle with her career and how she took steps to resolve it. We dug into the protagonists' (Lola and Wole) past, lived out their present and made conclusions about their future.
Nothing Comes Close explores friendships, death, infidelity and the depth that humans can subscribe to for love and lust. A death in the plot was a strategic platform that opens us up to human frailty. In one scene after the death, Wole and Lola shared a vulnerable and authentic moment. The stories they shared of their past in this scene seen far-fetched (on the other hand, it is a creative work and anything can happen),but it worked well in the aftermath of the death of a friend. That scene cast Wole in a different light. He is my favorite character. He is an intense and well-developed character, and his role helped the plot reach its climax and resolution.
The dialogue and language nuances between the characters, especially the humor-filled conversations between Wole and his friends, are original. Another quality to the story that I enjoyed, applauded and respected is the picture the author painted of Nigerians living abroad. Popoola was apologetically Nigerian in writing Nothing Comes Close, but she told it without watering down the ways of life of Nigerians in the Diaspora and without tailoring it to read like Nigerians living in Nigeria. I appreciated her characters.
A few scenes stood out as unusual. One of such scene was when Wole googled Maureen's alleged killer. His comment about the ladies not looking at his image when they googled him earlier seem unbelievable and out of place. In addition to a few unusual scenes, I will edit down the text to get rid of repetition and descriptions that added little or nothing to the story.
I was also impressed with the love-making scenes between Wole and Lola. She wrote it tastefully and concisely good that it left me yearning for me. Isn't that what sex should do? Leave you satisfied, but desiring more. Okay, I digress :) Our imagination is heightened in the short paragraphs she dedicated to the different sex scenes. We caught a glimpse of what happened without intruding on the intimacy of the lover's moment. I tip my hat!
Popoola is definitely a blossoming and talented writer whose debut novel is a must read set up to produce a sequel. There is a lot to choose from, but I am excited that she is expanding Temmy's story into a book. I am looking forward to more from Popoola.
Beloved, You are Loved Absolutely!