Helen Oyeyemi’s latest book, What is Not Yours is Not Yours does not disappoint. I have loved her books since a student recommended her about six years ago. I reviewed her book Boy, Snow, Bird here a year ago. Just as I realized this book had come out, my husband told me about a book of short stories he’d heard about on NPR all about keys (he’s a locksmith, thus the excitement). Oyeyemi’s subtle magical realism and ability to capture emotion intertwine in this lovely collection of stories. I wanted to pick it right back up and re-read it when I finished in order to tie the stories together more in my own mind, once I’d figured out the connections between them.
One story explored the reaction of a young girl’s reaction to a celebrity who abused a young woman, another involved a secret garden, and yet another took us to a school of puppetry. I delighted in the richness of her language and her worlds and often would stop to reread her sentences because of their beauty.
Some favorite passages:
- “It was the usual struggle between one who loves by accepting burdens and one who loves by refusing to be one.”
- “I remember Mum repeatedly telling us we had good hearts and good brains. When she said that we’d say ‘thanks’ and it might have sounded as if we were thanking her for seeing us that way but actually we were thanking her for giving us whatever goodness was in us.”