I’ve been dreading reviewing this, honestly. I feel like everyone loved this book. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. For me, it was like politely – experiencing? Not quite enjoying, not quite enduring – the company of someone you aren’t quite at ease around, don’t quite get, don’t quite like, but respect enough to not want to be rude.
The plot isn’t really hiding many potential spoilers. Ayoola and Korede are sisters. They live in Nigeria. There father was abusive. Their mother is living within her own inner narrative. Ayoola is breaktakingly beautiful, shallow, selfish, draws men like flies to glue traps. Korede is a nurse – staid, smart, not beautiful, simmering with compressed resentment as she carries out her never-ending duties as her sister’s keeper, literally cleaning up Ayoola’s messes, because Ayoola keeps killing her boyfriends. Korede has a long-standing unrequited love for one of the doctors at the hospital where she works, and things start to come to a head when Ayoola starts circling around him.
It’s very short, surprisingly unsuspenseful, the writing is often beautiful and packs a lot into a very sparse style. I think the dissonance for me is that I can’t stand books where you’re screaming at the pages, “Just say the thing that needs said,” and instead they just purse their lips and leave the room. Books where people don’t plead their case or have the conversation when it seems like they should and would in reality, and this is definitely one of those. The problem is that it seems to be heavily tied up in Nigerian culture – social structures, family structures, cultural roles. I can’t really be frustrated by it because that seems to be actually how it is, but it’s not familiar to me so I just had to kind of tell my brain to set aside that pet peeve because in the context of this book it’s not a valid complaint, and it’s not. If I were familiar with Nigerian culture I think my brain would assume that as the default and see it as an interesting and realistic constraint, but even though I’m fully aware that my own ignorance is the issue, there it is. For me, at least, it was frustrating.