ASK Musings

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June 2024



The List by Yomi Adeoke

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
Those interested in stories that explore questions of media ethics, morality, how to determine who to believe.

In a nutshell:
Ola (a journalist partly known for here work on #MeToo-esque stories) and Michael (a media presenter) are two people living in London. They are set to get married in a month, with friends and family coming into town. They are Instagram famous, and held up as an example of #BlackLove. Then The List is posted to Twitter, which accuses 40 men of various crimes, from harassment to rape. Michael is on the list.

Worth quoting:
“She refused for love to be something that she endured.”

Why I chose it:
I was at the airport and it looked interesting.

I usually don’t check reviews before writing my own, but when I looked on Goodreads I see that this book is quite divisive. Some folks love it, and many really, really hate it. And I get that. I am ambivalent, as I did enjoy reading it and think author Adegoke explored some interesting questions, but I think it could have been a stronger story with perhaps a slightly less twisty ending.

The concept of the book is solid in my opinion: what happens to the people accused by anonymous complaints, and what happens to their families? Obviously the focus should be on the victims of crime, but they aren’t the only people impacted. What happens to the people who love the people who may have abused others? And if someone is accused anonymously but publicly, what should happen? What makes sense?

Ola works for a website and is tasked by her boss with investigating the List, as the boss doesn’t know Michael is on the list, accused of harassment and abuse. Michael has started a new job that day, but soon ends up on leave.

The book gives us point of view chapters from both Ola and Michael. We quickly learn that Michael is not a good partner, but to what extent that aligns with the allegations against him remains a mystery for a good while. Ola is focused on trying to figure out if she should believe her fiancé, and if she chooses to, what that means for the career she’s built, calling out accused abusers and demanding their accusers be believed.

As the book goes on, we learn some more about others on the list, and it is clear that some of the allegations are definitely true, or at least based in some confirmed actions. And some may not be – and it has an impact on the accused. Now, does that mean there’s no value in bringing forward allegations? Of course not. Truth is important, and just because something maybe can’t be brought to a court doesn’t, to me, mean it shouldn’t be shared or believed. But there is an impact on so many people, and it’s not just about whose fault that is.

What’s next for this book:

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