Where We End & Begin (September 27, 2022) by Jane Igharo is the perfect kick off to our fall #TBR pile. As the weather begins to cool and our wardrobe begins to soften up with cozy sweaters and socks, what’s better than a gorgeous second-chance romance about true love—when it’s meant to be, when it’s not, and what should be forgiven?
Two star-crossed lovers reunite at a wedding in the beautiful nation of Nigeria. Dunni’s and her high school sweetheart Obinna’s chemistry may not have changed, but almost everything else has since she left Nigeria to attend college in America 12 years prior. But now Dunni is a Seattle geneticist, and while she may be engaged (yet not in love), her parents approve and all the success she could ever want is on the horizon. But once she sees Obinna, who has turned from a shy teen to a confident successful man, she’s reminded of the wonderful future they’d planned so many years ago, and a passion is stoked within in her—until past secrets of them both are discovered, and more questions than ever before are brought to light.
Jane Igharo is known for writing characters—most of all strong beautifully flawed Nigerian women much like the ones in her life—and settings that readers of today can relate to. This heart-warming and evocative celebration of richly drawn culture and family, superstition and science, social standings and immigration struggles is no exception.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Jane Igharo on inspiration, writing through the tears, and diversity in publishing.
What inspired Where We End & Begin?
I grew up watching Nollywood movies (Nigerian movies), and many of them often told stories about high school sweethearts who love each other but eventually go their separate ways because of college. It’s a storyline that has always stuck with me, and I wanted to tell my version of it.
How do you find a balance of weaving in juxtapositions in this work: poor and rich; mistakes and forgiveness, religion and science, to create such real situations?
Weaving these juxtapositions in this book wasn’t something I planned when mapping out the plot. It’s something that happened as the story developed. I think they came naturally to the story because it made perfect sense to the identity and development of each character.
What are you most proud of within the book?
I intended to write a passionate, raw, and emotional romance. I think I did that with this book. I felt this story so deeply and cried so much during the writing process. So far, readers have mentioned how emotional this book is, and I’m so proud I could convey how much these two characters love each other.
You bring Nigerian characters to the forefront, helping readers see themselves in the stories they read and grow to love. What are your thoughts—or even fears—about the current state of representation in literature?
Currently, the publishing industry is more diverse than it’s ever been. There’s been so much progress, and it’s been so exciting to see the depiction of people of colour in every genre. At first, when we started seeing more diversity in books, I feared it was temporary—a trend people were jumping on. Diversity and inclusion are not trends, and I hope the publishing industry continues to prove that.
What do you do to get inspired?
I listen to music. The right artists always put me in the right headspace to write. Some of my favorites are Taylor Swift, Sara Bareilles, and Corinne Bailey Rae.
So far out of the books you’ve written, which has been your favorite? The most difficult?
Where We End & Begin is by far my favorite. Not only do I love this book so much, but I feel like it really shows my growth as a writer and storyteller. The most difficult book I’ve written so far is The Sweetest Remedy. There were so many big characters in that story. To write them honestly, I had to get into their heads and truly understand them.
What are you working on now?
I just submitted my first young adult novel. So while I wait for edits and take a break, I’m thinking of ideas for another young adult book. It’s a genre I really enjoy writing, so I’m excited to see how my career as a young adult writer unfolds.