Title: Yefon: The Red Necklace (Volume I)
Author: Sahndra Fon Dufe
Release Date: April 2014
Length: 290 pages
Series?: Yefon #1
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Source: Beck Valley Books Book Tours
5% from the sales of EACH hardcover copy of YEFON novel is going to one of the following charities:
LOURDES COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMS
BUI SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMS (MamaVerla Project)
WORLD LITERARY CRUSCADE
TERRERAI TRENT’s TINOGONA FOUNDATION (http://www.tinogona.org/)
A powerful, emotional tale of ambition and courage by Cameroonian-born Sahndra Fon Dufe, the Common Wealth of Nations recognized author of ‘Dear momma’. (2004)
Yefon: The RedNecklace (YRN) is the first book of the YEFON trilogy series. It will have you wrapped up with emotions you didn’t know you had!
Young tribal girl, Yefon Labam, knows she’s different.
During the 1950’s, in her Central African village, women are uneducated and are expected to either work on a farm or be one of many wives, but Yefon dares for more—she wants to learn how to read, even if looking at a book could mean her death. Although everyone thinks she’s an abomination, including her mother and sisters, her father knows she’s destined for greater things.
When he is murdered, Yefon clings to the gift he gave her for inspiration—a red necklace. She soon comes to realize that the necklace is no ordinary ornament, but a talisman crafted by the spirits. Yefon walks a dangerous path that could lead to her freedom…or her death.
THE TRILOGY BEGINS…..
Remember a while back when I was asking for diverse reads? Well, this was one that I stumbled upon and I was so excited.
This book was a complete flop for me. If you keep up with me on Goodreads, you have probably already seen the star rating I assigned this book, and that is highly unusual and out of character for me.
And that is why this review is appearing outside its blog tour, which is a first for me.
Yefon is the second daughter of the first wife in her compound in Cameroon. The novel starts off in such a way as to turn off a reader, almost bashing the conveniences and technology of modern times, compared with those of the time Yefon grew up.
One didn’t curb boredom by lying on a comfortable couch and turning on a 42-inch flat screen TV to watch Keri Washington fix things on Scandal. It’s not like you could log onto Yahoo news to see Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMAs either! These are the sorts of things that my grandchildren are now obsessed with. In my time, you sat by a massive hearth, alongside twenty other skinny black rustics, to hear your grandmother tell stories.
I understand older generations wanting to impart “their days” to their offspring – or anyone who will listen – but this Yefon did not endear herself to me. However, Yefon did paint a pretty clear (and ugly) picture of women’s stature during this time. It is very bleak.
Regardless of whether your husband slept with your sister or used you as a punching bag, it was your job to hold your family together or else you had failed as a woman.
The man had all the financial power, and you were nothing but a childbearing cook with genius farming skills.
In fact, the entire first half of the book was a mess of characters, terms, tangents, and unclear plot lines. I was so very tempted to DNF this book, but I kept pushing myself. If you had asked me what the book was about at the 20% mark, I would have told you it seemed like random babbling about all manner of things, which only served to confuse me.
In Yefon’s culture, polygamy is common, and Yefon hates her father’s second wife’s daughter, Sola, who is beautiful and gets out of doing anything. In fact, she gets beauty treatments all the time! In such a time, with so little, and needing workers, I find that hard to believe was possible for 20 years.
Yefon also does not get along at all with her mother. She is incessantly getting in trouble, and crying and screaming until her father, home from working away, would come and have it out with her mother. This carried on even until she was 16, 17, and she would jump upon her father as if she was a small child when he would come home or rescue her.
I hated that my mother insulted me with a title so malevolent. Ogbanje children are evil children that die when they are born and come back again many times, plaguing their mothers with trouble in their lifetime.
Yefon forges a relationship with her half-sister Kadoh, who is the daughter of a slave. All that’s said about the slavery is that Kadoh couldn’t do some of the things Yefon got to do, or be in her compound all the time, and that their language was different…and yet it seemed Kadoh was there all the time. Kadoh was an interesting character, very different than other people, eccentric, but very supportive of Yefon. But Kadoh would always hold out on Yefon, even in times of stress, so I didn’t see how this relationship could sustain under such one-sideness. It was obvious that Yefon looked up to Kadoh, but even into their late teens and early twenties, neither marry, which I gathered was unusual.
There were moments in the book when Yefon’s character had strong moments, but they were few and fleeting.
Now, the red necklace! It is a gift from Yefon’s father, and Yefon wears it all the time. It provides her guidance on occasion, being an item belonging to what seemed even to Yefon to be a mythical goddess-type character. Although this magical, mystical item has fallen into Yefon’s hands, in the end I don’t think it served her too well. This seemed anticlimactic after the title, and all that the necklace means to Yefon, and all that her father has trumped Yefon up to be – that she will change the future. How very flat that falls.
In the latter part of the book there seems to be a clearer plot line, but the ending falls completely flat, and the necklace that has guided Yefon for years fails her. The book ends on a major cliffhanger, which only serves to continue the storyline in the following books.
Another reason I had issue with some things in this book is that Yefon uses terminology in retrospect (such as describing substances as jello-like and referencing the internet), when no one in her compound at that time knew what any of those things are. It gave an unauthentic voice to Yefon that carried throughout the novel. It reminded me of Scout’s voice in To Kill A Mockingbird, but the effect was completely lost in the dramatic Yefon.
Unless you are overly interested in this book based on the premise or the setting of Cameroon, I would recommend a pass on this book. It is not a story for every woman.
*****About the Author*****
Cameroonian-born author, actress, humanitarian and business mogul Sahndra Fon Dufe is the young CEO of African Pictures International, and the co-founder of Gifted Minds Africa Foundation.
She works at exposing the history, culture, and truth about Africa, women and the spirit within. The remarkable actress has been featured in numerous feature films, and commercials, and presently lives in Los Angeles with her hunk of a man, a closet full of shoes and too many vintage clothes.
Sahndra spends her spare time perfecting her craft and soul-searching, on a journey to regain wholeness and cure the spirit. She also hunts for Egyptian artifacts, pieces which have captivated her imagination since childhood.
The children’s book is coming soon!