The Attic Child begins with the story of Dikembe, a child from the Congo who is sold by his mother to a British gentleman explorer. We hear the story from his child eyes and how he goes from thinking he was a temporary servant to realizing he was permanently in this man’s care as a companion. The gentleman keeps him as a “companion” thinking he is doing the best thing for this young “savage” child, believing he is both bringing Celestine into a world he could never reach on his own as well as educating fellow Britons that Africans are not inferior. How this proceeds is heartbreaking. Celestine pining for home and being treated awfully in his new country is achingly painful. When the gentleman dies, things only get much worse. We learn more about Dikembe’s story by Lowra, a woman living in modern times reexamining her own childhood as her family home is being sold. I don’t want to say more because experiencing the story on your own is beautiful.
I was really only invested in Celestine’s timeline for the first half of the book, spending some time wondering why we needed Lowra’s miserable views but when her connection was revealed, all made sense. I think I would have still preferred a straight storytelling of Celestine’s life but I get that the author was trying to make some social commentary by keeping the modern storyline. I was so invested in Celestine, his views on the world, his passion, his anger, his resilience were intoxicating. I love when you read a novel and wish the characters were real people, I was so inspired by his spirit and his heart. I learned so much from this story about the fate of Africans in the hands of the British. Lowra’s story shows us more traditional child abuse and the impact on mental health. The meeting of the two is a lovely picture of healing.
I did this one on audio and the narrators were fabulous. One of my favorite performances of the year. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐
Thanks to Harper Audio via Netgalley for access to this audiobook. All opinions are my own.
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