Book: Tomorrow I’ll Be Twenty
Author: Alain Mabanckou
Around the World: Congo
Tomorrow I’ll be Twenty, follows Michel a 10 year old boy who lives in Pointe Noire, Congo, over the course of a few weeks. We see how he spends his time with his friends, the unusual family dynamic between him, his mom, his step-dad, and his step-dad’s other wife and children, the trials of a childhood romance with a girl who has particular ideas about what he should say if he really likes her, a crush on an older girl, and the seeds of his understanding of the outside world germinating as he listens to the wireless with his step dad.
It is a gentle, humorous and at times odd story, with the magic and naivety of childhood. What I think is interesting is how the character Michel has realistic faults and deficits of understanding written in- we can see that his reasoning is false, but he thinks it is logical based on what he knows of the world.
There is not one main story line in this novel- it is more of a meandering snap shot of a childhood, and a country. The main mini story arcs within it are relating to his trying to work out relationships with girls, and what to do when a witch doctor tells his parents that the reason she hasn’t conceived again is that he has hidden the key to her womb. He of course doesn’t have a key, but everyone else believes it so he goes to find one.
All in all, it is an enjoyable read, as long as you don’t mind there not being a main driving narrative.