Set in Nigeria, The Banana Skin: Love Magic follows a young woman named Omanma through her college years and adulthood as she searches for the man she is destined to be with. While she thinks she has found him in the handsome, rich Emeka, she one day slips on a banana peel at a market and is caught by a stranger named Chinedu, who is not equal in wealth or status to Omanma. Because she is grateful that he caught her and “saved her from embarrassment,” the two become friends.
Destiny plays a large role in Omanma’s love life. As it repeatedly exposes Emeka’s womanizing and adulterous ways to Omanma (one time a flat tire causes her to stop at a hotel, where she catches him with another woman), chance meetings with Chinedu show Omanma how steady, kind and respectable he is.
Using her knowledge of Nigerian culture, the author includes many interesting passages, such as the coronation of Omanma’s father and a native doctor making sacrifices to deter a “water spirit.” But this cultural difference also confuses, such as when Omanma physically attacks Emeka’s “other women” to the point that Omanma needs to be hospitalized. Such behavior in America would be shocking, but it’s not clear if that is also the case in Nigeria. Other times, the author uses words like “505 car” and “N fifty thousand” with no explanation as to their meanings.
While the story moves fluidly and characters are well developed, every page is littered with grammatical errors and improper use of words. At times these errors are comical (breasts being “special balls” or characters eating “on” instead of “at” the table). Usually, meanings can de deciphered by the context, but such missteps constantly distract from the story.
Despite its shortcomings, The Banana Skin: Love Magic is a pleasant romance. The author successfully blends Omanma’s experiences to form an engaging story of personal growth and the role destiny plays in every relationship.
Also available in hardcover.