Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Worthy Legacy--Tomi Akinyami (book review)

A Worthy Legacy is Tomi Akinyami's tribute to her father's wisdom, written after he died in a car accident. Beginning as a family gathers in a Nigerian village to say their last goodbyes to the family patriarch, and ending with a journal entry written to to his granddaughter before his death, this is a sweet book, full of poetry. It shows the protagonist's love and respect for her grandfather and the impact he had on her world view, so clearly. In fact, I thought this was a true story until I read the author's notes, Behind the Book, on her website. I was a little taken aback to realize it was fictional.

At 101 pages, there's so much room for this book to expand on everything it has to offer. The opening sets the scene beautifully, and then the backdrop seems to just fade away. The woman's relationship with her grandfather is touching, but I longed for deeper characterization, of them and of the surrounding family members. I wanted more context for the grandfather's words.

So my questions for Tomi are:
Did you consider fleshing out the story to make it novel-length? And, what led to your decision to not to do so?

And my questions for my readers are: If you could choose what a loved ones last words to you would be (either past or present), who would it be and what would you wish for?

For me those coveted last words would be from my maternal grandma, who died several years ago after suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It doesn't much matter to me what her words would be--I just wish she'd been able to speak to us in the last years of her life. I would have cherished anything she had chosen to say.

I'll have a guest post by Tomi Akinyami on Monday, July 13. She'll be writing a post that perfectly complements my Striving for Greatness post from a few weeks ago. You may also visit the other blog tour stops for A Worthy Legacy.


  1. I've seen several reviews of this one and didn't realize it's fiction until now.

  2. I would wish that the last words would come from my daughter. I hope that she would say that she loved me and that I could see my grandson.

    Thank you,


  3. I've been following the tour, and this is the first mention I've seen of it being fiction. Interesting.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  4. I was also confused, thinking that it was non-fiction...until I read it. Once I read it and saw just how many words of wisdom a man on his death bed was able to share I figured something was up :)

    It really is a wealth of inspiration, a great quote book.

  5. It is fiction? Didn't knw that!

    Well it has to be from my mom! I will cherish anything that she would she then... I just pray to God every now and then that I be fortunate to be with her.. whenever ...


  6. I count myself fortunate that I have a few beautiful letters from my grandmother (who passed away last year at the age of 103) and I have some handwritten recipes from her little sister that she wrote me when she was 100! Cherish the moments, yes?

  7. Thanks for the post Ali. That's a very interesting review. Here are the answers to the questions posed by the review and other comments.

    The Genre for A Worthy Legacy is creative non-fiction.

    With regards to the story of A Worthy Legacy, here is an overview:
    After my dad had lost a few people who were very dear to him, he would often speak of what he wanted his last moments to be like. Unfortunately, he died suddenly in a car crash and his last moments were not what he had wished it to be. I wrote A Worthy Legacy just like he had described.

    As a writer, I was always writing even from childhood, so I had written down the things I learned from my dad over the years. After his death, I would often read those notes and in writing A Worthy Legacy, they were my source for words.

    With regards to if I ever considered fleshing it out to make it novel length, the answer is no. The reason for that is simple A Worthy Legacy was written at a time of grief. I didn't mean for it to be anything other than what it is, the transfer of a legacy of wisdom from one generation to the next.
    Also, I never thought about it as a book until I shared it with other members of my family and friends. The reactions I got about how valuable the contents of the book would be especially to people starting a new phase of life prompted me to publish it.