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"Someday, Maybe" by Onyi Nwabineli

Book Reviews of 2023

By Alexis StanfordPublished 8 months ago 5 min read
Alexis holding a copy of "Someday, Maybe" by Onyi Nwabineli with a background of a bookshelf and leather chair.

Through spontaneous selection, Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabileni is my first completed book of 2023. I think that listening to a book is the same as using my eyes to read, and so I chose the audible version of _Someday, Maybe_, and from cover to cover it took eleven hours, which I spread out over a week, to complete it. I chose the book solely because I was drawn to the cover and intrigued by the title.That might sound like a shallow way to pick a book, but it is the kind of spontaneity that brings about unexpected and thought provoking literary experiences. I honestly thought that this would be my light read of the month, a romantic comedy with a black girl as the protagonist, because of the colors and graphic vibe. Turns out, I was wrong. This entire book is about one woman’s grief after her love story takes a tragic turn. Destiny has a mind of its own, and I find it no small irony that I would start this year reading about a woman’s processing loss when I myself am doing the same. Last year, my life was impacted on a national, communal, and personal level by deaths related to mental health and an inability to find a tenable way forward in life. By the end of page one, we the readers are fully aware that the entirety of the book is the story of the aftermath - the damage left in the wake - of death but suicide. Needless to say, this is not a light read. However, I am glad it was my first this year because it gave me some perspective for my own process moving forward through my pain along side others.

The experience of grief is not a universal or monolithic; it has a thousand faces and moves as swiftly as the tide. My initial experience when entering into grief is not one that is violent or even noticeable. As the oldest, and as the un-closeted perfectionist and helper in the family, I always go from shock to "how do I support others and be the strong one.” Then, when the first quaking is over and a calm seems to fall around me, I find myself unexpectedly wailing in my car in the parking lot of a Walmart, or worse, in the aisle of the Walmart. This character’s experience is very different from my own, and I’ll admit that there are times I thought that that the character didn’t seem to be making any emotional progress, at least not in the way that I want a character to in order to drive the story forward and keep me invested. But to be honest, I think that is the author’s intention; grief doesn’t move in the ways that we want it to, and we don’t get to rush it because we want to get to the next part of the story. For this reason, I think the author did a great job of creating a character that comes to life because of the rawness and honesty she reveals to us. And while I’ve never been in these character's shoes, I imagine that for many this would indeed incapsulate what it is like to be in that place.

It was also interesting to experience the book being read to me. The narrator, Adjoa Andoh, did a great job with the accents (the main characters are in the UK, speak Igbo in their home, and one character has an accent that is potentially Latin rooted), and though the majority of the story is actually the internal thoughts of the main character she has a way of reading that makes it feel like you are in a conversation with the character. Admittedly, I struggled with her voicing for the male characters just because it seemed a bit forced, and not in line with how I pictured the characters to speak, but I know this is a personal preference. At times, I also felt that the climactic moments of grief fell flat and I can’t figure out whether it’s because the text falls short of authentic or the acting is forced. That is the beauty, though, in listening to a book; it gives you the ability to engage with the writer differently because you’re encountering the text through an outside lens, or voice in this case. I don’t think I will read the book again, but the book is a worthy read, and as an audible experience I think that the narrator did a great job of presenting the story in an entertaining and engaging way.

Overall, the book was an emotional read that was at times hard and always tender, and it is one that that I think is timely and done well. I appreciate that the author didn't indulge any desire for spectacle; there is no detailed description of any acts of self-harm, and everything that needs to be expressed regarding the catalyst is done through absence and language between the lines instead of overly descriptive and unnecessary language. Most of the characters have an element of themselves that is likable, lovable, and conflict causing, which is very much like real life. Even the character that I struggle with the most has some thing about them that is understandable, even if at times it feels unforgivable. For me, the largest take away is that when you are grieving you must remember that your support circle, although imperfect, is often doing everything they can to help you the best way they know how. And as someone who is part of multiple support systems, it is important to remain humble and recognize when you are placing expectations on the person who is suffering the loss because you find their journey makes you uncomfortable. I think that the book's greatest strength is that it show's that love can be the thing that undoes us and the thing that mends us again, and that having a supporting family and friend group is a treasure worth more than its weight in gold.

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About the Creator

Alexis Stanford

Alexis is a poet, essayist, observer, poor philosopher, and Jack-of-all-trades that is better than a master of none. She lives in Philadelphia and hopes that her words will inspire reflection that leads to a life of action.

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