Thursday, April 14, 2011


1978. On the cover we see a big-eyed black girl looking around her... Aya, and the book is about her. Aya lives in Ivory Coast in a neighbourhood called Yopougon of Abidjan that used to be the capital of the country. She's a teenager, and through her eyes we experience the daily lives of the people around her. Of course, her world - together with her friends Adjoua and Bintou - is essentially about being in love, seducing, clothes etc... that's what teenagers are all about! Aya however is the most serious one and aspires to be a doctor.
Striking is the light and fun tone of the book. For once Africa isn't depicted as the underdeveloped helpless continent we sometimes see on TV. Aya is a self-conscious teenager who has her mind set on studying. While her friends are looking for the easy way to money and try their luck at the disco, Aya has her nose in the books.
There is a lot of sex in the book. Not only Aya's friends secretly fuck around, even her only father has a few mistresses of his own.

The writers of the book know what they are talking about. ClĂ©ment Oubrerie, who has a fantastic loose drawing style, is a recent visitor to the Ivory Coast. Marguerite Abouet is from there, and although she denies this might auto-biographic, the story could have been about her own teenage years. 
The events could have taken place in Western countries too. The girls go out, have secret dates, one gets pregnant and has to get married. What is different in this book are the habits of Ivory Coast: the big families, the open-air dance parties, the secret encounters between boys and girls and the ever beautiful weather. Aya is merely a witness.
There are already 6 parts... and I am longing for number 7!!!!

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