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Jummy at the River School

Jummy has won a place at the River School, the finest girls’ boarding school in Nigeria.

Nothing can dampen her spirits, not even when she learns that her less fortunate best friend Caro won’t be joining her. By the Shine-Shine River, school is everything Jummy dreamt of, with friendly new girls, midnight feasts and sporting prizes. But when Caro suddenly arrives at the school to work, not to learn, Jummy must bring all her friends together to help …

A joyful, glorious collision of classic boarding-school story with vibrant 1990s Nigeria, based on Sabine’s own experience of boarding school in Nigeria. 

Chicken House Books

This really is a classic boarding school tale, with midnight feasts, friendships and rivalries, and mean teachers. It being set in Nigeria in the 1990s gives it another layer of interest for readers who may have never been there (or never seen it in a story), with a beautiful sense of place…and the potential for crocodiles in the river to cause trouble! I absolutely loved the descriptions of food and the voices were brilliant, with a story that highlights poverty and privilege at the same time as being about tested loyalties and the importance of friendship.

I asked Sabine Adeyinka a few questions:

As it is inspired by your experiences at a Nigerian boarding school, are many of the events things that happened in real life?

The place, emotion and setting are very similar to a regular Nigerian Boarding school in the 90s. However the actual story is completely fiction. I did have a friend who wasn’t able to continue her education after primary school and that stung. Her family just couldn’t afford it and there was nothing I could do at the time.

Which of the characters were you most like as a child?

A cross between Jummy herself and Rashidat (class clown) who appears once or twice.

Who was your favourite character to write?

Ngozi was quite enjoyable to write about as she was so contrary and determined. Owolabi was great too because he annoyed Jummy and that made me giggle when I wrote about him.

Jummy was discovered through the Chicken House open submissions, has the story changed much since that point?

The bulk of the story has remained the same but the strength and consistency (for example) of the characters greatly improved with the help of Chickenhouse.

Have you thought about the kind of events you would like to do with readers (imagining no pandemic!)?

Oh I’d love to sing the songs in the book with readers and create second verses. I’d love Q&A sessions as well especially about living and schooling in Nigeria.

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

Children of the quicksands by Efua Traore. It is a magical adventure also based in Nigeria. I’d recommend it to lovers of Jummy at the River School as it will enhance their understanding of what its like growing up in Nigeria.

Have you any further ideas for novels?

At the moment, all I can think of is more stories about the River School!

JUMMY AT THE RIVER SCHOOL by Sabine Adeyinka is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

Thank you Chicken House Books for the review copy and Sabine for the q&a.

Do have a look at the official blog tour from last week!