The hottest debut of 2022 Wahala certainly gave us something to smile about this January.
The draft poured out of Nikki May in six months and when you get to know the characters, you’ll understand why.
The story of three thirty-something women, Simi, Simi, and Boo of mixed Nigerian heritage is the heart of the book. Ronke longs for a happy ever after with a man like her late father. Boo has everything Ronke wants – the 5-year-old daughter, the kind husband, the dream house – but she’s unfulfilled and plagued by guilt. Then there’s Simi, she’s got an amazing job and an even more amazing wardrobe but she’s crippled by imposter syndrome and her husband thinks they’re trying for a baby but she’s still on birth control…
Then the glamorous Isobel, an old friend of Simi’s, explodes onto the scene like a wrecking ball. At first, it seems she’s got everyone’s best interests at heart, she goes running with Boo, she gets Simi an interview in Shanghai but her real motive for infiltrating this friendship group and causing Wahala (which means trouble in Yoruba) propels the narrative all the way to the explosive final chapters.
Keep reading to find the team’s reviews on this razor-sharp debut from a brilliant new voice!
Ronke Simi, Boo and Simi are three mixed-race friends that live in London. They share the gift of both English and Nigerian cultures. It is not the only way they see it. Although racism is not something that has held them back, their futures are in doubt now that they are in their thirties. Ronke is looking for a husband (he must have Nigerian origin); Boo loves (correction: continues) staying-at-home motherhood; Simi, who has fashion career aspirations, looks at her boss and refers to her urban vibe once again.
Isobel, their lethally glamorous former friend, arrives in town and is determined to make their lives better. Soon, cracks begin to emerge in their friendship and it becomes clear that Isobel isn’t just wrecking but also sorting. The women must confront a past crime that might have happened again when Isobel is forced to commit a horrible act.
This hilarious, explosive, and highly entertaining tale about love, race, and family will make you laugh, cry, and gasp in horror. The spellbinding story is fearlessly political about class, colourism, and clothes. Wahala is for anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.
It was a great debut! It was delicious! I devoured it faster than a bowl jollof rice. Wahala focuses on three British Nigerian friends Ronke, Boo and Simi. They all believe they deserve more in life. Blindsided by what they don’t have, they allow Isobel to manipulate her way into their inner circle and threaten their friendship. They say that threes are a crowd, but in the case Isobel they were not. Wahala, it’s most definitely four. Told in alternate points of view, the reader is privy to each of the character’s private thoughts and Iso’s insidious manipulation as it’s happening, which makes for an exhilarating read. May’s use of Nigerian Pidgin was a joy to read and learn about – it flavoured the storytelling with depth, culture and humour. I think the SATC comparisons are by the by, it’s an easy comparison to make due to the female friendship themes but there’s something far grittier at play here. May created a monster in Isobel. But it was an easy-to-read monster! If you’re looking for a slow burner with thriller undertones and an explosive ending, consider Wahala your alobam.
Rating: 4/5 Would you recommend? Yes – and make it quick before the tv adaptation drops!
It was my first book for 2022. I completed it! I was super excited to jump into this gritty story after seeing Nikki’s Tuesday Takeover on the Zoella Stories which really piqued my curiosity, and hearing the rave reviews roll in certainly had my expectations set quite high. I’ve never seen SATC so although I’d heard those comparisons floating around before delving into the book, I can’t say it impacted my perceptions all too much. Wahala did a great job exploring the themes of female friendship and loyalty. I was intrigued by the decisions made and their outcomes. Throughout the book I found many of women’s personality traits and decisions somewhat unlikeable- something I don’t tend to gravitate towards when reading- but somehow with Wahala I found myself more intrigued and invested in their fates.
There’s no doubt that the translation of Wahala being ‘trouble’ was apt, as the last few chapters of the book were an absolute whirlwind with a seriously messy ending. I don’t like reading books when you know a ‘twist’ is coming, but I actually think it’s quite useful in this case as a lot of the storyline is character focused and at times I wondered where the story was progressing to. I don’t personally feel that the majority of the book can be classified as a thriller, but the drama that fills the final chapters certainly reclaims this somewhat! The conclusion was a bit rushed in places. However, this is part of what makes the book so enjoyable. I’m really glad I read Wahala and it was a great accompaniment during my second round of Covid in Jan!
Rating: 3.5/5 Would you recommend?: Yes!
WAHALA was a book I loved! The book was filled with many aspects that I enjoy. Stories about adult friendships, how adult women navigate adulthood, and the trials and tribulations that go along with it are all great topics. Getting to learn more about Anglo-Nigerian women and their experiences was such a privilege, and Nikki May’s description of Nigerian food is straight-up mouth-watering! I understand the SATC comparison as it’s 4 young women navigating life in the city but the similarity ends there, which is NOT a bad thing as Simi, Boo, and Ronke have so much more to offer. This book is told through the eyes of three characters, which works really well, especially when May pokes fun at their ridiculousness. A lot of the book it spent getting to know the characters which I really enjoyed reading, there was a bit of a sense of “when is the juicy thriller part coming” which comes further towards the end, but damn if it isn’t worth the wait! I can’t wait to see this book become a series and I would pick up the sequel and devour it in a hot minute!
Rating: 4.5/5 Would you recommend?: Yes, it’s worth the hype people!
Wow WahalaWhat an amazing novel! Nikki May’s debut focuses on the lives of three British Nigerian women; Ronke, Boo and Simi who have been friends since University, but now in their 30’s, they are all finding that something is missing from their lives. Enter, Isobel, Simi’s childhood friend, who is ready to cause a whole lot of trouble! You can read the entire book. Wahala and all of the different storylines, Ronke’s was probably the one I felt most invested in, following her love life and how it seems to fall flat time and time again. Let her find a man who will be a good match for her!
The ending was intense to say the least… I actually wish that everything had started to unravel a bit earlier on, the last few chapters fly by with so much happening, I would have loved to have read more about it all and see it happen a bit slower. The plot twists were very juicy, and I love a twist and turn of events.
I didn’t get SATC vibes from Wahala which it has been described to be like, however I do get Big Little Lies vibes from this book. I get the comparison to SATC due to this book being centred around female friendships, but I think there’s a lot more to Wahala, it’s intense and gripping, which is why I see Big Little Lies set in London as more of a comparison!
I really loved learning more about Nigerian culture and traditions throughout, the recipes at the back of the book I’ll definitely be trying too, Ronke’s Jollof rice first!