Review

Review: Things They Lost by Okwiri Oduor

“And right then, inside Ayosa, a key turned, its teeth and notches biting down, wriggling for a few seconds, before finding its cavity.”

Genre: General Fiction

Pages: 368

Published: April 12th 2022

Rate: 4 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Ayosa is a wandering spirit—joyous, exuberant, filled to the brim with longing. Her only companions in her grandmother’s crumbling house are as lonely as Ayosa herself: the ghostly Fatumas, whose eyes are the size of bay windows, who teach her to dance and wail at the death news; the Jolly-Annas, cruel birds who cover their solitude with spiteful laughter; the milkman, who never greets Ayosa and whose milk tastes of mud; and Sindano, the kind owner of a café no one ever visits. Unexpectedly, miraculously, one day Ayosa finds a friend. Yet she is always fixed on her beautiful mama, Nabumbo Promise: a mysterious and aloof photographer, she comes and goes as she pleases, with no apology or warning.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from One World Publishers for review but all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

My Take

Things They Lost is one book that is both beautiful inside and out. I judged this book by its cover and I wasn’t disappointed. A coming of age story told in a beautiful lyrical way. The story narration drew me in from the first page. I have to say though, the book is slow paced but I found that it worked with the story as it was building up.

Okwiri Oduor explores motherhood and female friendships so well. Reading the story in Ayosa’s voice has such a childlike innocence that is just pure and honest. Frustrating at times, but knowing at best and I loved the mishmash. Coupled with folklore and magic, the author does a great job of showing and telling throughout the book. I appreciated that so much.

“She memorized this, stored it elsewhere inside herself, so that someday, when she was all alone and nothing in the world thought of her, she would come back to this moment, would examine it and remember what it had felt like to be wanted.”

Things They Lost has a strong sense of place. The town, Mapeli, is a character in itself. If there is one thing that shines in this book it’s the characters! Ayosa and her family, her friend and even the cat. They are all well written in the story, framed against an atmospheric background that had my senses heightened. Honestly, I don’t know if I am making sense with that description but if you have read the book you know what I mean. (I hope?)

Things They Lost is heavy on the magical realism and if that’s not your cup of tea you may end up not liking it much. For me? I loved it! It’s a book that I would say to be patient with as you read and in parts, suspend all disbelief to fully enjoy it.

Have you read Things They Lost? What did you think about it?

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