In the The Prodigal Daughter, we meet Loyce, a beautiful and intelligent young woman from an upper class Nigerian family living in Houston. Her family, the Amaechis have been following certain religious norms and traditions for generations. Loyce and her siblings have been brought up well; and are expected to follow these traditions. She knows she has to complete college before she can think of dating or even marriage. When Loyce turns 16, peer pressure comes in and in most cases she clashes with her parents in a bid to make her friends happy.
On her 18th birthday, her friends organize a birthday party for her and it is on this night that she must prove to her friends that she is lovable- she has been set up with a stranger to lose her virginity. Fate has a different plan- Loyce and Quintin (the stranger) fall in love. The joy of their newfound love is cut short when Loyce’s family rejects Quinton on the basis that he is not catholic and lacks ambition. In the Amaechi family, it was unheard of to marry a non-catholic. “When an Amaechi child got married, certain traditions had to be followed. Her mother had kept a list of must-haves for an Amaechi wedding. Four things were expected to make her wedding complete. She would have a custom design gown. She was expected to remain a virgin. The church would be a catholic church. Then, most importantly, the right man would be not just catholic but cradle catholic, a child born to catholic parents”.
It therefore comes as no surprise when her parents reject Quintin and she is sent back home in Nigeria in the hope that she regains her ‘senses.’ In an act of desperation she abandons the church and the faith she was taught (hence being called “the prodigal”); for where was God when she needed Him the most? If God is love, then why couldn’t she be with the person she loved the most? What has religious denomination got to do with love? And will their love conquer all so they live happily ever after? Her time in Nigeria is trying, but her friendship with Sherry, a girl in an almost similar predicament, gives her courage to fight on.
The author’s story telling is very unpredictable which makes the book quite fascinating. So many other stories are interwoven in to help the readers understand Loyce’s character better. We will feel Loyce’s pain, confusion and fears in her quest to do right by her parents but at the same time find true happiness. She is a courageous young woman, even when all her young sisters get married; and her father tries to hook her up with potential suitors, she stays put to her principles –an important lesson to all of us to always stand by what we believe is right even when people around us tell us otherwise for “Life’s lessons cannot be as predictable as the season’s changes. But Life’s principles are built on the expectation that life often deals us a hand not foreseen.”