“It is the most hopeful story I read this year,” Hager said.
Daré’s novel follows a Nigerian teenager who dreams of becoming a teacher but is forced into an abusive marriage and later becomes an indentured servant in the city of Lagos.
A reviewer for Kirkus praised the book, writing, “Daré provides a valuable reminder of all the young women around the world who are struggling to be heard and how important it is that we listen to them. A moving story of what it means to fight for the right to live the life you choose.”
Daré was raised in Lagos and now lives in the U.K. She told the Today show that her novel was inspired by domestic workers she knew in Lagos.
“I used to wonder why many of them were not allowed to sit at the dining table with the family or to watch TV and most importantly, to go to school,” she said. “I had questions I couldn’t voice.”
Hager said her selection was inspired by a recent trip to Vietnam, where she met young women who have fought for their education.
“Some of the things we take for granted,” she said. “She doesn’t get an education, she isn’t allowed to learn. Although it’s the fictional story of one young girl in Nigeria, it really is the story of so many others.”
Michael Schaub is an Austin, Texas–based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.