‘But remember, my lady, the best husband you can ever have is one who demands all of you and all of your time’ this is the voice of Nana as she tries to reason with Esi about her decision to leave her husband.
Esi, the main character in Changes: A Love Story depicts a modern career woman in the African Society. She is a University graduate who is married with a child and working at the Department of Urban Statistics and who loves her career more than her marriage. She is having problems with her husband, Oko, because according to her, Oko is demanding so much of her time.
She wonders how Oko expects her to compete adequately with her male colleagues if she cannot devote herself wholeheartedly to her career. She eventually divorces Oko.
Separately, we meet Opokuya who is Esi’s best friend. Married with four kids, she is a working nurse with many demands on her time both from her family and her job. However, unlike Esi, Opokuya has found the balance between her career and her family and doesn’t let one suffer for the other.
Esi having determined that the man for her has to be someone that doesn’t demand too much from her, someone that would give her freedom and not want her to be around twenty four hours of the day, decides to marry Ali, who is already married and who is in and out of the country so many times, and therefore gives her the space she needs.
It is not until the second year of her marriage that Esi understands what her Grandmother, Nana was talking about. She discovers that having a career is not everything, that having a husband who wants you so much that he demands all of you is the best husband a woman can have.
Whilst the two women struggle with the choices they have made, with each envious of the other and thinking the other has got the better bargain, the story ends with Esi deciding the marriage with Ali was not what she wanted and Opokuya finally getting the car she always wanted.
Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story is a book about the choices we make and the end result of whatever that choice is. The book confronts the challenges the married working class African woman faces as opposed to the men. It’s a story about what we want not always being what we need.
With this book, I believe Ama did justice to how difficult it is for an African woman to compete on the same basis with the man, because trying to place your career over your family has more dire consequences for the woman than for the man.