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ARC REVIEW: How Beautiful We Were

“She says nothing, in the way mothers say everything while saying nothing.”

Happy Publication Day to this stunning book by Imbolo Mbue! 

I was lucky enough to be approved to receive an ARC of this book by Canongate on Netgalley and it has to be one of the most moving books I’ve read in a long time. 

It covers some really interesting topics, the most poignant being the destruction and ruin of a small African village as a result of a large American oil company to set up business there. In doing so, the company’s oil pipelines and drilling sites have ruined crops and poisoned the village’s water supply. 

It’s a devastating tale of destruction and loss but one that incorporates selfishness and greed. The village is full of residents who are fuelled by emotion and anger, not just at Pexton (the American oil company) but at each other and as a result, no one knows the best action to take as the majority of villagers are driven by their own motives. 

The book incorporates a range of different narratives and through these characters, we gain insight into different perspectives and how that shapes their lives and opinions. What was deeply moving for me was watching the children of the ‘Pexton generation’ grow up and retell their experiences of when Pexton first arrived on their soil. 

It is an incredible story and journey to take yourself on and one I thoroughly enjoyed, however not an easy read and one that made me reflect on how awful it must be to have your life overturned by big corporations with big bank balances. 

How Beautiful We Were

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Publisher: Canongate
Published: 2021
No. of Pages: 384 
Genre: Historical Fiction, Cultural Fiction
Trigger Warnings: Racism, destruction, ruin
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells 


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