The Harsh Reality of Rape Expressed In YA Literature

Plain Yellow is a novel by Ruby Yayra Goka that was published in Ghana for young adults across the world. This novel’s narrative dives into an uncomfortable topic, as the protagonist deals with many struggles throughout her journey. Goka tells the story of Amerley, a teenage girl living in the village of Teshie, Ghana with her mother and siblings in the novel. Also, it is told by the protagonist through first-person, so the reader gets an inside view of the thoughts and feelings created throughout the book. Amerely is living a happy, simple life with her family in the poor village, even though they do not have much money to live off of. She enjoys spending time with her siblings and boyfriend, Nikoi. She could be described as a ‘homebody’ as she rarely leaves her village and lives a simple life. Just as she feels most content with her surroundings and relationships, everything takes a change for the worst.

Amerley’s mother, Amerley-mami, decides to send her away to the town of East Legon, where she will act as a maid to her Aunty Rosina. She becomes distraught upon learning this news as she does not want to leave her family and all the relationships she has created within the village of Teshie, and she isn’t even sure if Rosina is her real aunt. However, Aunty Rosina promises the Amerley to take care of her family financial worries, and promises her to send her to a school for fashion after two years of work.

From there, Ameerly arrives at the new house and is astonished at the wealth the family has. This does not fascinate her for long though as she quickly becomes homesick and wonders if she will ever get to go to fashion school as her Aunty Rosina has promised. The family seems to be having many issues as well, and do not seem very close to one another. The climax of the story occurs when an adopted son of the family, named General, rapes and beats Ameerly on more than one occasion. He insures her that nobody will believe her if she goes to someone about it.

Ameerly feels as though she has lost all her feelings from the incident and its as if she has fallen into a black hole and there is no escaping it. The family finds out what General has been doing, but attempts to cover up the horrendous acts as it will harm the family name. The family eventually sends Ameerly back home in which she attempts to use her close relationships with her family and boyfriend to heal her from the terrible past she has endured (Goka).

Plain Yellow does a tremendous job in many aspects of the novel. For example, throughout the book, we are given close details on the thoughts and emotions of Ameerly which allow the reader to gain the insight of what a rape victim may feel like after it has occured. This allows for the reader to sympathize with Ameerly and other victims, even though they may have different reactions than she did. Also, Goka constantly changes the setting in each chapter from East Legon to the village of Teshie between each chapter. The reader is then able to analyze the differences in Ameerly character as she enjoys her life in Teshie, to the harsh reality she must live in East Legon. It also adds to a nice change of pace, as the reader may feel different emotions from chapter to chapter.

Goka seems is using this narrative as a platform to spread more awareness about the rape culture within her country and around the world. It is a traumatizing problem no child should ever have to endure. The reader is bound to feel strong emotions of sadness and anger after reading Amerley’s story. Goka uses her words wisely in the book too as the novel only consists of 175 pages. I was amazed at all of the different emotions she portrayed from the characters in such a short book.

This novel should be read by someone who is looking to gain more knowledge of how rape actually occurs and how it can change the traumatized victim’s personality. Also, as a citizen of the United States, it was interesting to look at the culture of Ghana displayed in the novel. I feel as though I could picture the village of Teshie within my mind due to the creative writings and descriptions of the area given by Goku.

Overall, I think that Ruby Goka did an excellent job writing this novel by creating emotions that can really affect a reader. It was often challenging at times to keep reading as it was deeply disheartening to read of such a sad story about an innocent girl. With the novel, she has spread more awareness about rape not only in Africa, but all around the world. This powerful novel is a short read that will dig into your heart and make you create a deep feeling of sympathy for the protagonist. I will be reading this book once again in the future.

Works Cited

Goka, Ruby Y. Plain Yellow. Ghana, Techmate Publishers, 2016.