Where We End & Begin

After loving Jane Igharo‘s first two books, Ties That Tether and The Sweetest Remedy, I was excited to read her latest novel, Where We End & Begin. Like her previous book, this second-chance romance is set in Lagos, Nigeria. It even features one of the characters from The Sweetest Remedy! Here, the love story is a forbidden romance between teenagers, the events that broke them apart, and the path that ultimately leads them back together years later.


Dunni and Obinna were high school sweethearts in their senior year, falling hard and fast for each other despite their disparate backgrounds. But these star-crossed lovers were doomed from the start, and after being broken apart and going their separate ways, they lost contact with each other for more than a decade. Dunni, now a geneticist in Seattle, finally returns to Lagos to attend a wedding… and runs into Obinna. Even after all this time, the two are drawn to each other, but it will take time to rebuild their trust and develop a relationship that can last.


Where We End & Begin is a dramatic and heartfelt love story divided into two timelines. In the present, we follow Dunni upon her return to Lagos—her first time home in 12 years. Since leaving Nigeria to attend college in America and eventually build her life there, Dunni has changed a lot. She’s a far cry from the girl she was as a teenager. The past timeline focuses on Obinna as he and Dunni fell in love in their last year of high school. Toggling back and forth between the two timelines, this novel paints a picture of forbidden love and a second chance at happily ever after.

When Obinna and Dunni first meet as teenagers, it’s love at first sight. Obinna is attending a private school, there on scholarship due to his academic achievement and thanks to Dunni’s generous father. Dunni has grown up rich and, like the rest of their classmates, was already a student at this elite school. From their first meeting at the start of senior year, Obinna and Dunni are drawn to each other, and it’s not long before they develop an intense, passionate romance. Being together is a struggle from the start, though. Both Dunni and Obinna’s moms are against any kind of romance between the teenagers; Dunni’s mom, in particular, is rather threatening towards Obinna. Moreover, Obinna is filled with self-doubt. He doesn’t know if he’s good enough to be with someone like Dunni, however they both feel about each other now.

I don’t usually enjoy romances between teenagers so much, but it works well here. It helps that it’s not written like a YA novel. Instead, the innocence and fervor of the past timeline balances well with the more mature perspective of the present timeline. The past has hints of Romeo and Juliet, with nearly as much drama despite the lack of history between the two families. But with both Obinna’s and Dunni’s moms discouraging a relationship, their love seems doomed from the start.

The drama continues into the present timeline, though it takes some time for all of that to be revealed. The tentative rekindling between Dunni and Obinna is overdue, yet so much has changed between them. They have secrets and need to be honest with each other, and there are significant obstacles still standing between them. Are they still doomed, even after all these years?

I love the role of family throughout Where We End & Begin. Both Dunni’s and Obinna’s parents play important roles, whether that’s in bringing the two together, breaking them apart, or affecting Obinna’s perspective on things. Dunni’s grandmother is also a wonderful character here, though I would have liked to see more about her mysterious premonitions. If you read The Sweetest Remedy, you’ll also recognize Tiwa’s character; here, she’s the friend whose wedding sets off the present timeline’s events.

Another theme I liked was the differences in socioeconomic status. I particularly identified with Obinna, since I grew up fairly poor myself. I can understand his feeling out of place in a private school, sometimes feeling inferior due to his lack of money or due to his needing to work alongside his mom on weekends. Dunni, in contrast, has so much, and yet her family feels more distant and has definite fractures.

Where We End & Begin is filled with drama, from teenage blood pacts to near-death accidents, and while it is a lot, it also works for me here. It plays out like a tragedy at times, but it also offers growth and a chance at happiness by the end. Some parts are emotional and may cause tears, but ultimately this is a hopeful and sweet love story.

Final Thoughts

From start to finish, I loved Where We End & Begin. It’s intense yet tender, exploring romantic love as well as relationships between parents and their kids. This may be my favorite Jane Igharo book yet, and she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Get the Book

You can buy Where We End & Begin here – it’s available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo
GenreContemporary Romance
SettingLagos, Nigeria; Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA
Number of Pages350
Format I ReadPaperback
Original Publication DateSeptember 27, 2022

Official Summary

Star-crossed lovers get a second chance at romance when they’re reunited at a wedding in Nigeria, in a heartfelt novel from the acclaimed author of The Sweetest Remedy.
Dunni hasn’t seen her high school boyfriend, Obinna, since she left Nigeria to attend college in America. Before their devastating separation, they vowed to find their way back to each other one day.
Twelve years later, and their vow is a thing of the past. Dunni works as a geneticist in Seattle and is engaged to a man she doesn’t love but one her parents approve of. Her future is laid out for her, and everything is going according to plan until she returns to Nigeria for a friend’s wedding and runs into Obinna. The shy, awkward boy she loved as a teenager is now a sophisticated, confident man. Things have changed, but there’s still an undeniable connection between them.
As they rediscover each other, their days filled with desire and passion, Dunni is reminded of the beautiful future she once planned with Obinna. But when devastating secrets are revealed and the reckless actions of their past bring new challenges, she’s left questioning everything, including if the love that consumed her as a teenager is still worth holding on to.

About the Author

Jane Igharo

Jane Abieyuwa Igharo was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Canada at the age of twelve. She has a journalism degree from the University of Toronto and works as a communications specialist and voice over actress in Ontario, Canada. She writes about strong, audacious, beautifully flawed Nigerian women much like the ones in her life.

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