One story told through children.
While talking with Jude Dibia, he discussed the struggle of trying to write about different dimensions of a person’s life while only writing one story. He discussed using the stories of different characters to represent the different parts of the main characters life which I think is exactly what he did in Walking with Shadows. There is not much room in the book to discuss Adrian’s childhood so he does it through the children in the book.
First Dibia illustrates what was like growing up gay through the story and conversation Ada has with her friend about her son possibly being gay. Ada’s friend admits that she hit her son because he was playing with his sisters dolls and she wanted to correct the gay behavior before her son grew up to be gay. Adrian enjoyed playing “girly games” as well growing up but was quickly mocked to learn that it was not an acceptable thing and he could not openly be who he was without getting reprimanded.
At the end of the book, Adrian sees a son and mother walk past him and the son is singing on of his favorite nursery rhyms (one that was considered a girly game). In this moment, Adrian realizes that he was that child growing up, full of fear and loneliness because he was not accepted. He reflects on how his parents treated him differently and resolves that he is not that little boy anymore. That he will no longer be afraid to be who he is and he is no longer alone sharing his secret because although only a few, there are people in his life who support him.
Lastly Adrians daughter Ego represents Adrian’s future but also the future of Nigeria’s tolerance. Ada vows to raise Ego as tolerant of others despite their sexuality and to teach her about who her father is not about the prejudices of homosexuality. As Ego grows up with this perception and tolerance of homosexuality, she will hopefully pass it unto her children and they will do the same. Ego shows how impressionable a childhood is. Adrian was raised with the beliefs that who he is was wrong and that haunted him for almost his whole life. If children continue to be taught that homosexuality is wrong and evil, the cycle of prejudice will never end. Adrians story took the path of tolerance, hopefully many more will as well.