“In Chike and the River, young readers get an intimate look at African life, learn about the Niger River, and connect with Chike as if he is their own sibling. The brilliance of Mr. Achebe’s prose is his ability to make a reader feel like an omniscient sprite on Chike’s shoulder: along for the ride and privy to all that he senses and sees.”
This is a simple, powerful and hopeful story that provides an inside view into Nigeria and Africa. Chike and the River (originally published in South Africa by Cambridge University Press in 1966) tells the tale of a young man who leaves his small village of Umuofia to live with his uncle in the “big city” of Onitsha.
In Chike and the River, young readers get an intimate look at African life, learn about the Niger River, and connect with Chike as if he is their own brother.
Before Chike leaves for the city, his mother (head of a single-parent household that includes two sisters and Chike) gives him the same advice given by parents around the world about how to be safe and how to act with others.
The fact that he misses her greatly in the beginning, but soon gets lost in his new environment and its ways, gives more credence and reality to the transitions in his life, from small village to big city and from a young boy to a young man.
Chike’s burgeoning excitement about living in a city is dampened by the reality of having countless numbers of families packed into every room and only two latrines in their yard for fifty people. He also feels a greater sense of isolation with folks not knowing their neighbors. On the other hand, he greatly revels in more sights, activities, and many new friends at school.
Read complete review at New York Journal of Books.