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Reviewed by Jennie More for Readers' Favorite
Pressure To Mutilate by Matthew Uzukwu is the story of a young man from Africa, Osak, who came to study in America and fell in love with a white woman, Ingrid. They married, and after three miscarriages Ingrid finally gave birth to their first child, Felicia. Osak informed his parents of the child's birth, and after consultation with their tribesmen, his parents received news that Felicia was born as the reincarnation of Uwa, the founder of their tribe generations ago. Osak's father asked him to bring Felicia to Africa, where they would perform the necessary circumcision. His father warned him of the potential death of his daughter if he refused. During Osak's period of indecision, Felicia becomes seriously ill on several occasions, leaving Osak debilitated and torn between choosing to either lose his daughter through death or his wife through a divorce.
Pressure To Mutilate by Matthew Uzukwu is an intense, layered, and suspenseful story. While I could empathize with Osak over his concerns for his daughter's health and understanding the importance of the circumcision ritual fundamental to his beliefs and culture, as a woman I empathized deeply with Ingrid and Felicia. An act is imposed on this young girl, unable to speak or decide for herself, an action that stifles her autonomy before she has even acquired any independence. Through Osak's neglect to inform his wife about the dilemma, he robs Ingrid of the opportunity to protect and speak on behalf of her daughter, thus stifling Ingrid's freedom as well. The dialogue between the characters was realistic and natural, as the opinions shared by the characters were diverse. This is a complex story that left me in deep thought. The plot is brilliant, bold, and complex, stirring up critical and diverse debates in contemporary society.