BINGO – Elephant
After the whirlwind events of the first novella. Binti decides that she needs to go home. She wants to go on the pilgrimage that all young women go on to take their place in their community. She and Okwu, her Meduse friend, get special permission to go back to Earth as special envoys. They return to Earth in peace despite the war and animosity between the Meduse and Khoush. Things immediately fall apart when Okwu arrives and Binti must do what she can to maintain peace. While trying to reconnect with her family and friends, Binti also struggles to discover who she is. Or even what she is for that matter.
Binti’s internal struggle with herself and her identity was very well balanced. Her family interactions felt very real. Familial interactions, especially when written from the point of view of a young person, can waffle between treacly or unnecessarily dramatic, but there’s a nice balance here. There’s definitely tension, often unspoken except by Binti’s older sister, about her place in the family and community considering that Binti left her family and is now part Meduse. An elephant in the room, if you will.
Okorafor expands the universe Binti inhabits more in this novel and does so on Earth. Binti learns of her dad’s side of the family. He is from the Desert People, a group that Binti’s Himba community considers savage and primitive. However, Binti learns that they are really not so different from the Himba and have been contacted by an advanced race of alien beings. Binti’s internal struggle is compounded even more with this information. Is she Himba, Meduse, or Desert People?
The ending left a lot to be desired. This didn’t feel like the ending. It honestly felt like the start of the third act, and that was frustrating. I’m still intrigued and definitely will be reading the third and final book.