Source: Review copy
Publication: 27th May 2021 from Atlantic Books
My thanks to the publishers and to Midas PR for an advance copy for review
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.
Bambi is 28 years old and a player. He is a lothario who enjoys playing the field for as long as he can get away with it. Now though, things have changed. Bambi lives in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria and it has gone into lockdown because of the Corona virus. So he settles in with his girlfriend Mide, looking forward to having her look after him while lockdown is in effect.
She, on the other hand, is no fool. Combing through his WhatsApp. she discovers evidence of his philandering and throws him out on his ear. Where is he to go?
He remembers that his uncle has recently died from the virus and thinks that his aunt will have moved in with her relatives, so their house will be empty. A quick break in and he will have a place to stay that should be fine. Ah, but our hapless lover finds that nothing is ever as simple as he expects. Entering the house he finds not only his aunt, Bidemi but also another woman, Esohe, whom he knows to be his uncle’s lover and who he has met before….
But they are not the only occupants of the house. There is also a small baby – a baby whom each of the women claim as their own. As they argue and try to convince Bambi that they are the true mother, it is the baby who is sometimes neglected during these periods and Bambi has to step up to the plate to make sure it he is properly cared for.
At night, Bambi is kept awake by the bay’s cries and during the day, a cockerel crows constantly. Food is spoiled. Blood is spilled on the walls and tribal markings appear on the poor child’s face. Bambi has to act.
As Bambi has no choice but to move in with these quarrelsome women it will be down to him to determine who is the true parent of this child. Oyinke Braithwaite’s short novella is a take on the Judgement of Solomon and plays with gender stereotypes in a fun way as each of the women try to persuade Bambi that she is the mother. In the absence of DNA testing because of the lockdown and with the baby caught between two warring women, it is up to Bambi to see if he can resolve parentage once and for all.
Verdict: This Baby is Mine is an easy read and more than fulfils the brief of being a ‘Quick Read’. It is full of dry humour and Oyinke Braithwaite enjoys poking fun at all her characters. At only £1 (or less) for the paperback and knowing that this also pays for someone else to be gifted this book as an encouragement to reading, what have you got to lose by buying it?
Oyinkan Braithwaite gained a degree in Creative Writing and Law at Kingston University. Her first book, My Sister, the Serial Killer, was a number one bestseller. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize and was on the long list for the 2019 Booker Prize.
Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of The Baby is Mine says of writing for Quick Reads : “When I am writing, I don’t know what my readers will look like or what challenges they may be facing. So it was an interesting experience creating work with the understanding that the reader might need a story that was easy to digest, and who might not have more than a few hours in a week to commit to reading. It was daunting – simpler does not necessarily mean easier – I may have pulled out a couple of my hairs; but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Quick Reads tapped into my desire to create fiction that would be an avenue for relief and escape for all who came across it.”
Photo: (c) Amaal Said
The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We work closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Reading Agency is funded by Arts Council England. www.readingagency.org.uk
Quick Reads, a programme by The Reading Agency,aims to bring the pleasures and benefits of reading to everyone, including the one in three adults in the UK who do not regularly read for pleasure, and the one in six adults in the UK who find reading difficult. The scheme changes lives and plays a vital role in addressing the national crisis around adult literacy in the UK. Each year, Quick Reads commissioning editor Fanny Blake works with UK publishers to commission high profile authors to write short, engaging books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. Since 2006, over 5 million books have been distributed through the initiative, 5 million library loans (PLR) have been registered and through outreach work hundreds of thousands of new readers each year have been introduced to the joys and benefits of reading. From 2020 – 2022, the initiative is supported by a philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes.