Love versus Goliath is a true story of Robyn and her family. Robyn is an Australian, and she happened to fall in love with John, an asylum seeker from Nigeria. He fled his home to escape death, moved from country to country without knowing whether his wife and their four children were even alive (the wife divorced him after a while, hoping that his political enemies who wanted him dead would stop being a threat for her and the kids), and finally got to Australia. There he met Robyn; she wanted to help this nice guy in trouble; they fell in love – and then Australia deported him back to Nigeria, since they didn’t believe his claim was a true one. As soon as she could, Robyn went to Nigeria too, married John, and then got back to Australia to fight the battle against bureaucracy – that would be the Goliath – and bring her family home. Family meant John and four kids, since the Nigerian law usually gives children to the father after the divorce. The battle with bureaucracy took a while, a lot of money and health was spent, but it was worth it – the family is finally together.
At the end of the book, you’ll find a bunch of really useful resources for anyone in a similar situation.
The book is wonderful in many aspects.
It is an emotional story about love and about fighting for love.
It’s an ugly story about what bureaucracy can be like, and how it can ruin people’s lives – John could have been killed before the bureaucracy allowed Robyn to bring him to Australia, their oldest daughter could have been sold (yes, it happens in Nigeria, and a healthy, pretty young girl like her would probably fetch a good price), their sons could have been killed too so they wouldn’t follow in their father’s footsteps…
It’s very interesting to look at the cultural differences – for example, when I first heard of Robyn’s story, I was surprised that John got the kids. While my country is patriarchal, it’s the mother who gets the children after the divorce, unless it can be proven she is extremely abusive (and even then it may happen for her to get the custody over the kids anyway). So, when I read that John got the kids, my first thought was that their biological mother was dead, or, well, seriously not suitable for raising children – and that turned out not to be the case at all. Shows where the assumptions based on our own, often limited experience can lead us, doesn’t it?
Speaking of cultural differences, big and small: folks, go and read Robyn’s blog, you’ll learn a lot!
Another interesting aspect of reading Love versus Goliath were my own reactions. Because of the stress, both Robyn and John suffered serious health problems. To me it looked like they were overreacting. Yes, John and their four children were in danger. Yes, it was stressful. I know stressful. I’m from Serbia, and I was there for the decade of civil war. I didn’t see my own father for seven years because of that war, didn’t always know even whether he was alive. I was there during the seventy-something days when the NATO dropped bombs all over Serbia. My friends and family were in all of that, too. And yet, we were much calmer about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither saying that people from Serbia are heartless or insensitive, nor that Robyn’s and John’s reactions were anywhere outside of normal – different people react to stress in a different manner – I’m merely noticing my own reactions when reading Love versus Goliath. Were they really overreacting? Am I the one who is weird? Both? Neither? Who knows?
Overall, I’m really glad that I’ve read this book – and that Robyn is reunited with her family, of course! A professional editor could have made improvements (several paragraphs were copy-pasted from one chapter to another even though a short reminder would have done the job, some chapters or parts of them looked to me like rants – perfectly understandable, just more suited for a blog than a book), but with four kids to feed and raise on a limited budget, I know what my priorities would have been! Even without a professional editor or being a professional writer, Robyn tells her story in a compelling way and in a clear enough manner, and gives people in similar situation hope that they can succeed, too, plus some information as to how to do it. And that is, I think, what matters most.
Thanks for the book, Robyn!