This book is a moving, if perplexing, tribute from a mother, R.I. Iyemere, to a daughter, Ada-Emilia Valmori, she lost too soon.
The book’s first part consists of the daughter’s dissertation, written for a degree taken at England’s University of Birmingham a few years before she died in 2011. This is followed by charming photographs of Valmori and a 25-page, free-verse poem, “We Will Meet Again,” written by her mother and dedicated to Valmori.
The inclusion of the dissertation seems to be a way for an anguished mother to show readers what the world lost with this young woman’s passing. Entitled “The Anti-Slavery Movement In Two Slaving Cities: A Comparative Study In Urban Politics,” the paper bristles with charts, quotes, research and arguments that suffer from the usual limitations of undergraduate writing: the style is often stilted and awkward, the logical development not always felicitous, the conclusions sometimes stated more emphatically than what seems warranted. Still, it’s promising work by a young woman at the beginning of her adult life.
The concluding poem is the volume’s true heart, a descent into rage and grief. Though Valmori died in the hospital, the circumstances are murky as presented by Iyemere, who seems to be accusing health professionals of neglect and malfeasance. What is clear is a mother’s sorrow: “Death became your future; your future became death; / grief and sorrows are my present!” And her anger: “Let goodness and life pass them by always / and replace their achievements with darkness!/…Oh lord, may they be tricked to their deaths, like they did to my daughter, / Ada-Emilia!”
This book struggles to hold a whirlwind between its covers: a storm of sorrow, anger, confusion and despair – but also hope and pride. That’s a lot to do in the confines of a short volume and, unfortunately, Iyemere has not been completely successful in making the disjointed elements here work as a whole.
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