Tomi Adeyemi’s Fight Against Oppression

 Isabelle Braun ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Today’s authors have figured out ways to make complex concepts understandable to younger generations. From Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games to Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, the topics of mass incarceration, murder, and racism have been included far more often in young adult fiction than ever before. Younger generations are no longer sheltered from these real-life topics within the fictional works they read, and it is a great strategy to have in order to send a message. The kind of message that Collins, Thomas, and Adeyemi are sending to younger generations is that oppressed people will no longer be put down, and that power is not everything.

Tomi Adeyemi, age 24, is paving her own path through the magical kingdom of young adult fiction. Henry Holt and Company published her book, Children of Blood and Bone, on March 6th, 2018. Her book was inspired by the works of Collins and Thomas. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Adeyemi claimed that the criticism of the cinematic adaptation of The Hunger Games really inspired her to write her novel. The racist comments about having African Americans having big roles within the movie angered Adeyemi; in response, her novel is almost entirely made up of black characters.

Photo Credit: Thoughts and Afterthoughts

Children of Blood and Bone is the embodiment of African culture. Adeyemi incorporates the Orïsha legends within the culture of the imaginary world she created. The tales of the maji and all of their magical powers is the base of the plot. Maji work their magic to see the future, connect with the dead, grow nature, and more. The king of Orïsha feared magic and eradicated the maji population when the magic disappeared from the land. Zelie, a potential maji identified by her white hair, travels to the capital with her brother in order to get money for the ever increasing taxes on her people. After getting the money, Zelie flees the capital with Princess Amari. The rest of the novel focuses on these three teenagers and their mission to bring magic back to the kingdom of Orïsha and save those who are oppressed.

Ayedemi’s writing is a tool to educate people about oppressive living. She is brutally honest when she writes, but it adds to the brutality that those oppressed people have to endure. Throughout the novel, Zelie often refers back to the memory of watching her mother being dragged away by the king’s soldiers. Ayedemi’s description of the scene includes sizzling of skin, blood escaping from the mouth, and the slow death of a person suffocating in front of her loved ones. Ayedemi interprets this description through the eyes of a teenager and incorporates the teenager’s thoughts. This technique, in a way, cools the intensity of the horrible act that the reader witnesses. Readers see the oppression through the rising taxes, the labor camps, and the fear and anger the maji have against the the royal family.

Tomi Adeyemi is a young, talented up and coming author who has already made a big impact on the world. Even though her world is entirely fictional, the base of her imagination is real life. She achieves her goal of fighting against those who believe African Americans should not be the focus by having an all black cast and the foundation of the story being African mythology. The message Adeyemi sends is harsh, but how she sends it eases the reader into the information. Tomi Adeyemi’s novel tackles real life problems in a fictional book, and effectively educates the reader on how oppressed individuals live.

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