Book Reviews

The Spotlight: A Review Of ‘Dear Diary’ by Itunu Taiwo


Alrightie…  So, last week, I did my very first review on a book by Itunu Taiwo.  And I think I did good 🙂  I had intended on doing a joint review for the two books she recently published, but I hadn’t yet read the second to completion.  And I was happy to leave it at that…

However, having now read ‘Dear Diary’, I think another review is definitely in order.  I hope I can do the book and the Authour justice in this critical analysis of her hard work.  I hope you will read and appreciate my review, even though, I have a feeling it’s going to be an ESSAY!  So, having introduced the Authour last week, we can dive right in…

***

I feel a need to divide my review into two parts: THE STORY and THE MESSAGE.

THE STORY

Itunu is a genius!  The story was inspired.  It was multi-dimensional, culturally relevant, deeply spiritual and madly entertaining.

In the first chapter, which I probably have to read again, I almost got lost in her crazy head.  I thought the story was a little jumpy, as different things happened that were not easily connected, and it seemed the thoughts were not finishing properly.  I’m glad I didn’t judge the book by that.  I later came to appreciate her style of writing, and I saw it develop as well, as the story progressed.

The story took shape slowly, but was interesting and suspenseful, and so very easy to relate with.  She told every girl’s story.  Well, an average Christian girl, trying to live by the Word of God, while being unsettled by inner passions and external pressures to conform.  She told of bad decisions, compromises and heartbreak, and the debilitating effects of walking in disobedience.

But even after failure, God is gracious.  Moyo/Lori told a story about how God still ministered to her, and directed her to make some important decisions, that went against the better judgement of her family and society.  Moyo began to live by faith…and was learning God in the process of discerning His will.  She forsook her job as a doctor to become one of several assistants to a multi-millionaire.  It was there that she discovered her true assignment.

It was a strange assignment really.  Her boss was concerned about his son, a former model, who looked a bit like a girl, and he feared that he would give in to pressures from the LGBTQ society and adopt a homosexual lifestyle.  He recruited Moyo to talk with Funmi/Tomi, and dissuade him from wanting to become a doctor as well, so he can work for him, where he can monitor him, and not in the States, where Funmi desired to stay.  Little did he know that Funmi had no interest in being a doctor, but had aspirations of being a musician.

Moyo learns the truth about Funmi, and sees that he is indeed a gifted musician.  He is also a beauty, with angelic features, but not quite the ladies man that his father, Derin, is.  She’s put off by his tattoos and his bad habit of watching porn, and joins the masses to judge him by his appearance and sensitivity.  Funmi also makes it clear to her that she’s not his type, and being already insecure about her appearance, Moyo is offended.  She hides behind the fact that he is five years younger than her, and determines to treat him like a child.

Falling in love is the last thing they expect…  And Derin’s pursuit and declaration of love for Moyo comes unexpected as well.  In this story, we read about the weirdest love triangle, and Moyo stands at temptation’s door.  To go with her heart and love Funmi, or to give in to Derin’s advances and be set-up for life.  Did I mention that Derin’s wife, Funmi’s mother, is still alive?  Draaama!

In all of this, Moyo believes that God has brought her into Funmi’s life to lead him to the Cross.  Problem is, she’s never been very good about speaking about her Faith, and Funmi has lots of questions!  She finds herself questioning what she believes, and learning God anew like a little child.  She has to forsake all her hang ups, and love Funmi, as Christ loved her, rather than be the Pharisee who hinders him from entering the Kingdom.

Curious to know what happened next?  Then you better go get the book!  It’s available for N1,000 only at Okadabooks.com.

THE MESSAGE

There are many powerful messages communicated in this story.  From the beginning to the end, several short stories are told within the bigger story (which is a great talent).  Moyo talks about her past, and the unforgiveness she held on to after being shamed by her College roommate, Seyi.  There’s also the crush she had for Danny, a fine boy from her Medical School, who she meets again and decides to date, though she’s quite aware of his lack of sincerity in the Faith.

We also read about Tony, the Saint, who would have been an ideal match for Moyo, but soon befriends another girl at the office, while Moyo is engaged in her strange assignment.  Moyo is jealous and envious, especially as the lucky girl had recently been living the sinful life…and was suddenly getting everything that she wanted.  On top of all this, there’s the Christian Minister and family friend, Jide, who is her mother’s and sister’s first choice for her…and who is really not all that bad if you don’t look too deep!  With all these pressures and temptations, it is only by God’s grace that Moyo is able to stand in faith and WAIT on God’s choice…even when he starts to act the fool!

The strongest message, however, was about love.  And not just any love.  The First Corinthians Thirteen Love that “endures all things, believes all things and hopes all things”.  Moyo believed that God had called her to love Funmi this way.  And she had just two people in her corner, her father and her brother-in-law, who were strong spiritual role models.  Oh yeah, and her cousin, Addie (who was never all that spiritual), and their roommate, Mariam (who was).

I have to say, I was little hesitant about this long-suffering love being applied to singles.  I know that marriage calls for this love.  But singleness…?  I would caution singles not to pledge undying love nor try to love anybody who isn’t their spouse unconditionally!  I really would.  It isn’t wise.

However, that said, it was really a question of would God call ANYONE to love somebody, who isn’t their spouse that way?  Maybe, because they were bethrothed or He had a greater plan?  One classic example is that of Joseph and Mary!  Joseph would have put her away, but God told him to abide.  I also told a story last year, Broken, drawing from the Hosea love story, about a man who God told to love a promiscuous and ungodly woman, because she would be his wife, and He would do a great work through her.  God reminded me of this when I was being critical of this message for singles being communicated through Itunu.

So, the truth is God can tell you to love a particular person He has prepared or ordained for you with His long-suffering love, even before marriage.  And if we do receive that call from God, we should obey and abide in obedience, so that God’s wonders would be done…and we will enjoy His best.  It is not any guy or girl that you really ‘love’, that you should hang on to and wait on, ‘trusting God’ to work it out…especially when they are acting the fool!  It is in God’s will that we practice enduring love for another.  And if you are married already – it is God’s will for you to succeed by showing this kind of love to your spouse!

That caution aside, the message was strong and inspiring!  The most important lesson is knowing God intimately, so that you can discern His will and trusting Him to accomplish it no matter what is happening in the physical realm.  With God, all things are possible…and Love conquers all.  Dear Diary truly captured God’s heart, and if anyone is sincere, they will heed the message and draw nearer to Him.

I really loved how the story touched on so many critical issues like pornography, homosexuality, gender confusion, ageism in marriage and more.  I love love loved Funmi’s character, who was a very sensitive male, and who was also not afraid to be who he was, despite society’s pressures for him to adopt a more ‘suitable’ label.  I think a lot of boys and men, who are sensitive and consider themselves to be ‘different’, will get a lot of affirmation and encouragement from reading about Funmi.  The story also challenges those of us who are quick to judge and label people as ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’, just because they are in touch with their feelings or like certain things that may be considered ‘girly’.  It was highly refreshing to read!

I have a critique however, though I don’t know who’s to blame.  It may have been an oversight by the Authour, or maybe just an extention of Moyo’s character, that she continued to call Funmi by what they both considered a ‘girly’ name, Funmi, though he told her that he preferred to be addressed as Tomi.  Why???  It seemed quite insensitive of Moyo to ignore this, and continue to call him Funmi.  But it could have been the Authour, because we later read an answering message by Funmi, where he addresses himself as Funmi and not Tomi.  So maybe some more editing will sharpen these intrinsic aspects of the story that will make it more believable.

All in all, it was a great and well-written story.  I highly recommend it for Believers wishing to grow in the Faith, and anyone who is seeking to know God.  I applaud Itunu for a job well done 🙂

***

Okay, that’s my review/essay done!  All of you forming that “I don’t have money to buy a book now”, or whatever reason you might be giving for why you haven’t bought this book yet…quit with the excuses.  For your own good, get this book.  And while you are at it, make sure you get a copy of The Church Girl, by yours truly – MOI!  In case you have missed the reviews on The Church Girl, it is raved to be “an excellent book for understanding how to handle relationships“!

Here’s the link to the first review on Bella Naija (https://www.bellanaija.com/2017/05/ufuomaees-church-girl-teaches-literallywhatshot/) and the second on Woman.ng (http://woman.ng/2017/05/a-review-of-ufuomaees-new-book-the-church-girl/).

Happy reading all!  God bless you, Itunu.  God bless us everyone 🙂

Photo credit: http://www.twitter.com

If you liked this post, you might like THE SPOTLIGHT: A REVIEW OF ‘STOLEN KISSES’ BY ITUNU TAIWO

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