A review by lauren_soderberg
Lucky Girl by Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu


4.25 stars

“To love is nothing, to be loved is quite something. But to love and be loved is everything.”

Lucky Girl is a brilliant debut novel by author Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu that explores the idea of independence and love in all its forms through the lens of protagonist, Soila.

Though Soila has always been the model Kenyan child for her mother, she finally decides to exert a bit of independence by coming to the United States for college. While there, she finds her privileged worldview challenged time and time again. As Soila finds herself, she also realizes that she does not want to fit into the narrow box her mother has created for her, even if it comes at a high cost. Can Soila truly find her independence, free from deeply ingrained societal expectations and cultural norms, or will she end up back where she started, having sacrificed her life and love to fulfill her familial role?

This book is, in many ways, a coming-of-age story. Soila is constantly figuring out how to move in the world, and her beliefs and viewpoints evolve and develop over time. Though there are very specific cultural references and norms that are explicated, there are also universal themes about what it means to be a part of a family, and what lengths you will go to in order to be true to yourself. I think the way that the narrative unfolds is both heart wrenching and heartwarming, and I appreciated the window into a life that is completely foreign to my own, but that still resonated with me in vital ways.

The ending is the true triumph, because it really seeks to answer the questions that the book has been posing all along. And it will leave you feeling hopeful about the life and the love that Soila chooses for herself.

Thank you to The Dial Press and NetGalley for generously providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.