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Nadia Owusu Books In Order

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Publication Order of Memoirs

Aftershocks: A Memoir (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Nadia Owusu
Nadia Owusu is a Brooklyn-based non-fiction author and urbanist. Born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this author spent most of her childhood moving from one continent to another, thanks to her father’s job. Some of the countries she lived in during her youth include Italy, England, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Ghana. The author’s debut memoir, Aftershocks, was among New York Times’ 13 new books to watch in 2021. In 2019, Nadia also received a Whiting Award. Her chapbook, So Devilish a Fire, also won the Atlas Review contest. Nadia teaches at Mountainview low-residency program when she is not writing, the same institution where she did her MFA.

Aftershocks is a poetic memoir about a young woman and her journey to self-discovery. Nadia was born in Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania to a Ghanaian father and Armenia-American mother. Her mother abandoned her when she was just two, and this rejection profoundly affected her life. Growing up without a mother meant that this young lady felt that she had no identity and was so confused that she struggled with mental illness in her twenties. What event will snap her out of that destructive road she has been on for years now? Can she forgive the mother who left her or the stepmother who did not show the young, heartbroken girl much sympathy after her father’s passing?

From the beginning, we see her loving and caring father, who is dedicated to raising Nadia and her sister. However, he is often on the road traveling to different countries for work. Nadia’s father had difficulty living with his daughters after their mother left because of his tight schedule. For some time, she had to live with an aunt in Italy. Her father eventually remarried and started living with his daughters. Unfortunately, this did not last long. Nadia’s father died when she was thirteen leaving her feeling all alone. It did not matter that her stepmother was there to raise her and her siblings. Nadia felt motherless. By the time Nadia turned eighteen, she had lived on three continents and traveled to different countries across the globe.

One of the events that stood out for Nadia was her birth mother’s visit when she was just seven years old. She vividly describes this visit, what transpired, and how it felt when her mother left. Nadia, her father, and her sister were living in Rome at the time. The visit was short but her mother leaving her for the second time was painful. Nadia likens her mother’s visit to an earthquake that came and turned her life upside down. When she left, the aftershocks after the terrible earthquake reverberated through her life for many years. It had taken courage for Nadia to face her mother after her abandonment, only for her to disappear so fast. Why did she keep on doing this? Could it be that she did not want anything to do with her daughter?

This young lady’s road to self-discovery begins when she goes to America for university. Nadia is eighteen, but she feels she has too many competing personas she can barely keep up. It is also hard for her to make friends, and she endures many lonely days in her first few years in America. However, as years pass by and her toxic relationships threaten to ruin her life, Nadia is forced to take a deep look inwards and start making the right choices for her good. For anyone who has suffered rejection and abandonment, this story is highly relatable. Abandonment is painful for every child, and the effects haunt such children for many years.

With intense and shattering prose, Nadia narrates her experiences growing up and the pain she carried in her for many years. She also highlights the cultures she interacted in different countries and her father’s homeland. Once you get into Nadia’s world with all its intensity, you will not want to leave. Your heart will break with hers when her mum appears and disappears from her life. You will also enjoy accompanying the author to different continents and experiencing the best cultures in these regions. Ghana stands out for its rich history and culture, and you can almost feel the desert heat through the pages.
This is a powerful coming of age story that explores the theme of identity. The memoir follows Nadia’s life from childhood to early adulthood, where life went on like a haze. This young girl endures so much in her young life that her story will leave you breathless and move you in ways you never imagined possible. Nadia’s struggle with mental illness is something many people can identify with. It cannot be easy growing up without a mother’s love, only to face racism just when you start to discover yourself. Even though she is well-traveled, Nadia struggles to fit in, and it does not help that she did not make any real connections while growing up. This author packs so much in this memoir, and the story is so beautifully told you will not want to stop reading. The rawness and honesty in this memoir also make it stand out.

Aftershocks is a captivating and powerful memoir detailing the author’s childhood and life as a young adult in America. The memoir is written in a non-linear way, yet it is easy to follow the narration from the first page to the last one. In this biography, the author takes you on a journey to Rome, Tanzania, Ghana, London, and New York as she tries to piece her life and discover her identity. Being abandoned twice by her mother has such an effect on Nadia’s life that it led to a total breakdown in her early twenties. Fortunately, she does regain her footing and discovers that writing is enough therapy for her. If you love memoirs, this one is a must-read. Despite the heartbreaks herein, you will rejoice when the author finally catches a break and is glad that she is enjoying a more fulfilling life.

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