Ousmane A. Macalou’s Blues of Adolescence (2003) is a largely autobiographical novel concerning the love between two high school students during the final decade of French colonial rule in Sudan. Mac, the novel’s protagonist, is educated in a European school for the brightest students. All his life, he has been respectful and followed the wishes of his elders. One day during an errand, Mac is involved in a bicycle accident with his neighbor, Lambine. Unlike Mac’s family, Lambine’s family adheres to traditional African values and norms. Thus, the two families have minimal contact. After the accident, Mac decides to write Lambine a letter expressing his desires to know her. The two quickly fall in love, but their cultural differences keep them apart.
When I first picked up this book and read the back cover, I saw that it was actually a continuation of an earlier novel. Even though I had not read Macalou’s previous novel, I was not at all lost during Blues of Adolescence. I found the book to be a very quick but touching read. In his prologue, Macalou explains that the story is meant to show what adolescences experienced during colonial rule. He is not attempting to write a fairytale or one-of-a-kind love story. It is amazing to see how two families living so close to each other are willing to sacrifice the happiness of their children to preserve cultural norms. A lack of love and happiness is transferred from generation to generation. The thought of a loving marriage is nonexistent. Anyone wanting to read a personal and heartbreaking view of colonial rule written from the perspective of young adults should turn to Macalou’s Blues of Adolescence.
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I received a complimentary copy of Blues of Adolescence as a member of the Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit dorrancebookstore.com to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.