“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou
Rebirth by Juliana Olayode is a biography that acts positively and progressively on Maya Angelou’s quote.
In this book, a reader can feel the humility in hoping and believing that there are better days ahead. A reader can also experience the humiliation in the face of hopelessness and careless or gullible mistakes.
Juliana is a worthy example of moving from grass to grace, she is a testimony. In Rebirth, Juliana describes her background and how she experienced poverty during her childhood years. She tells the story of her parents’ divorce and how it caused emotional and physical setbacks for her and her siblings. Other prominent events that this biography includes are; the sexual assaults by a neighbor, the loss of Juliana’s virginity, her struggle in the pursuit of educational advancement, and her testimony of becoming a Nollywood actress.
Who would ever think that Juliana Olayode hawked as a child to make ends meet at home?
Who would believe that becoming famous does not guarantee instant wealth especially in the music or movie industry?
Who would think that there is a possibility to thrive and survive tremendously without a university education, and at a young age?
Except stories like Juliana’s are told, it would be easy to think that our perception of other people is sufficient to understanding their truth. With Rebirth, I was compelled to rethink my imagination of what life is for the people in the public eye. I realized that except they tell their story, their lives and experiences run the risk of being like broken pieces of a bottle arranged in wrong orders.
Rebirth is an honest piece that defeats the shame Juliana and anyone in similar shoes may feel. Juliana did not hold back in telling the truth for others to learn. As a writer, when I am writing nonfiction, particularly memoirs, I struggle with believing my version of the truth and in permitting a reader into the whole experiences of my truth and for this reason, I bow to Juliana for her courage. Courage, openness, and honesty are not literary devices, yet they bring an outstanding energy to all forms of art and literature.
Rebirth also reminds me of Dr. Brene Brown’s teachings of shame as a “lethal” that kills. Dr. Brown who studied shame, defined it as the “painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.” The end of Juliana’s biography felt more elaborate and it had a deliberate impact because it showed triumph over the feeling of unworthiness of self-love, other people’s love, and above all, God’s love.
There are virtues to be acquired from reading Rebirth. Juliana's perseverance and pursuit of God is contagious. Rebirth is an intriguing piece that inspires spirituality through prayers and relentless trust in God. Juliana also writes about kindness and how it is a gift that material objects do not have the power to replace.
Another important virtue in Rebirth, is forgiveness. Juliana writes about as a transformation tool. I learned to see forgiveness as a mixture of acceptance and honesty about one's hurt.
These words may be glittering but trust me when I say that they are not enough to describe the quality of life and experiences that Juliana has lived as told in the book, Rebirth. Juliana is a role model that people many can exemplify.
Rebirth is available for free download on Juliana's website.
Awarded as one of Nigeria Writer's Awards top 100 influential Nigerian Writers under the age of 40
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