‘Where are you from?’ is a question I always find hard to answer. England in the 1970s: an ad in Nursery World. Private foster parents required for a three-month-old baby – me. The lucky applicant is a 57-year-old white woman who has adored ‘coloured’ children ever since reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and falling in love with the character Topsy… My mother arrives, a haughty Nigerian woman in a convertible with a Moses basket on the seat beside her, setting the net curtains in this all-white council estate twitching. And though my privileged mother claims the whole place makes her skin crawl, she returns to London with an empty basket beside her, choosing this home for me because, unusually for the estate, my new foster mother talks proper, and I’ll need a posh white accent for the bright future I supposedly have ahead of me.
Precious is the story of growing up black in a white community, of struggling to find an identity that fits amid conflicting messages, of deciphering a childhood full of secrets and dysfunction.
‘A beautiful book…’ - Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues
‘Recounts how this London-born daughter of a Nigerian princess came to be raised by an elderly white woman in an English housing project [council estate]’ - ELLE Magazine ‘Recommended Read’ for August 2010
‘Powerful and arresting memoir…’ - The Bookseller Magazine
‘Precious is an extraordinary book. Alternately alarming and funny, always spare and beautifully crafted, this is a testament to the internal exile of subordinated social groups that no reader should miss.’ - Denise Mina, author of The Dead Hour
‘Precious is an achingly beautiful triumph of will that is both heart-wrenching and hopeful. I was riveted to the pages, completely immersed in her world, even taking the book to sporting events and reading while everyone around me was cheering on the game.’ - Lolita Files, author of Child of God