EXPERIENCE THAT ’99 LOVE WITH TOMILOLA ‘COCO’ ADEYEMO.
One of the things I definitely love to do outside reading memoirs is reviewing Tomilola Coco’s books. If you are an ardent reader of my blog and the Nigerian fiction series community, you already know by now that Tomilola Coco is a household name.
In 2017, I read and reviewed Tomilola Coco’s Dangerous Passion and I was like yes, this is it! this is the height of magic, but I didn’t realise how wrong I was until recently when I laid my eyes on and fed my mind with Tomilola Coco’s latest book, That ’99 Love.
What is That ’99 Love?
Set in 1999, That ’99 Love is an absolute magic weaved in excellent storytelling and rich allusions. With this book, Tomilola Coco did not only outdo herself, she created a masterpiece that puts her on an entirely different level and class of who or what a creative writer is.
After saving her from being harassed by his group members, Omolola Sodipo, an intelligent 19 year old girl from a less-privileged family finds love in the heart, body, soul and mind of Tokunbo Carew, a handsome guy from a wealthy and influential family, who also happens to be a popular member of the most dangerous and wanted cult group in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Although they both recognised that they are world’s apart, they find love a worthy common ground for them to be in each other’s lives despite the potential risks attached. This decision becomes the foundation for the endless twists and turns that will eventually make or mar their lives.Set in 1999, Tomilola Coco's That '99 Love is an absolute magic weaved in excellent storytelling and rich allusions. It is really worth your time and emotions. Click To Tweet
One out of the many things I love about this book is how Tomilola Coco seamlessly explored diverse stories, issues and themes such as feminism, cultism, classism, sex for grades, etc. without losing the spark/focus of the novel or making a mess of the plot. As far as I am concerned, I believe it takes an exceptional mastery of storytelling to pull this off, and you just gotta give it to her.
Asides the fact that this book is rich in allusions, the setting and story line greatly thrives on it. To anyone who study/studied at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, July 10 is a day that means something really important.
There is a reason Obafemi Awolowo University prides itself on zero tolerance for cultism. On July 10, 1999, Obafemi Awolowo University experienced a cult attack that claimed the lives of five students of the University. 21-year old George Iwilade, a.k.a. Afrika, who was the Secretary-General of the then Student Union Government and 400 level student of Law, was gruesomely murdered (butchered) in his room, alongside four other students.With That '99 Love, Tomilola Coco Adeyemo honours the memories of George Iwilade, a.k.a. Afrika and four others who were gruesomely murdered in the OAU 1999 massacre. Click To Tweet
21 years after, the authorities and students of OAU still remember and honour the memories of the departed five, even though justice was never served and the incident remains an unresolved murder in the history of the school.
It is this historical allusion that the plot of Tomilola Coco’s That ’99 Love builds on. Beyond this, That ’99 Love also celebrates Old Nollywood and pays homage to the revolutionary impact of the first female Nollywood filmmaker, Amaka Igwe by drawing both heavy and light allusions from movies like Violated and Igodo.
Another thing I love about this book is the narrative style and its richness in irresistible 90s music. Although I got some Ayobami Adebayo’s Stay With Me vibes with the way the author chronicled the narration, still, That ’99 Love is a lot different as it is written in the first person present-tense while the titles of chapters also are named after the protagonists to show the narrator at the same time, unlike what we have in Stay With Me.
Can I also say that it is the music for me lol. I found myself vibing along on way too many occasions. I mean we can all agree that 90s has some really dope music yeah, and That ’99 Love is a proof that great storytelling sometimes comes with a great playlist.
Finally, the highlight of That’99 Love for me is how real the author makes fiction feel. It is realising that a lot of research was put into the writing of the book that it makes you want to research too. I mean it afforded me the opportunity to travel back in time and re-experience the setting differently, but I also found myself wondering if The Wolves are an actual cult group in 1999 and if Loaf is really the name of a restaurant in OAU at that time, because now we have Forks and Fingers.That '99 Love is an intriguing representation of reality that awakens human consciousness and sensitivity to life and societal issues while still serving premium romance, reviving your 90s music taste bud and taking you on insane sex… Click To Tweet
One perk of this book is that by the time you’re done reading ladies, I promise you, you’ll probably end up desiring bad boys than church boys. Tomilola Coco makes bad boys really desirable.
Overall, That ’99 Love is an intriguing representation of reality that awakens human consciousness and sensitivity to life and societal issues while still serving premium romance, reviving your 90s music taste bud and taking you on insane sex trips from Ile-Ife to Ikoyi, and back. The book is a compelling tale of teenage love, romantic entanglements, cultism, power, passion, affluence, sisterhood, classism, desire, loss, heartbreak, sex for grades, child marriage, and lots more.
If you’re looking for an unusual and really enjoyable romance to read or you want to experience or relive the 90s over the pages of a book, That ’99 Love is your best bet at an undiluted experience mixed in great storytelling . This book will make you smile, laugh, blush, happy, sad, and above all, reflect on the dynamics and binary oppositions that shape and define life as we and others know and experience it.That '99 Love teaches me again that life is never black and white, feelings are never bigger than facts, there are one thousand and one ways to fight for love, and sometimes letting go is one of them. Click To Tweet
Tomilola Coco really pulled a Shonda with the ending of this book. I want to give this book a 5, but I noticed one or two errors and typos that wouldn’t let me. So, I rate this book a 4.8 out of 5. It’s really really worth your time and emotions.
You can tap here to get a copy of That ’99 Love on okadabooks. It goes for N1,000 only.
If there’s anything I learned all over again from this book is that – life is never black and white, feelings are never bigger than facts, there are one thousand and one ways to fight for love, and sometimes letting go is one of them.
PS: One of these days, I look forward to hosting Tomilola Coco Adeyemo on a show and discussing her writing process, feminism, bad boys and what informs her choice of character names. I mean, Toni Garrn, Tokunbo Carew, etc.
Till I come your way again, please do not hesitate to share your feedback on That ’99 Love with me in the comment section.
Love, light and joy,