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Akwaeke Emezis’ book dives into romance is a cathartic read on the beach

Akwaeke Emezis’ book dives into romance is a cathartic read on the beach

 


Beach reading as a book descriptor seems ubiquitous these days, especially as the hot summer months descend upon us, practically begging trips to the distant tropics (although many of us we remain glued to our work laptops). Akwaeke Emezis’ latest novel seems like a natural fit for such a category: a fun and flirty romance set on an unnamed tropical island. And even, You made a fool of death with your beauty transcends the shallow tidal pools of a typical entry in the genre and plunges into deeper, perhaps more treacherous waters. Emezi takes us on the literal and emotional journey of Feyi Adekola, a woman still reeling from the tragic death of her husband, Jonah. In the vein of Helen Hoangs The principle of the heart from last year, this novel reminds us that messy heartbreak and complex love can be two sides of the same coin.

Messy and complex are actually apt descriptions of You made a fool of death with your beauty. After losing her husband five years prior, Feyi moved back to Brooklyn to live with her best friend (another queer black woman named Joy who brings extra levity to the novel), dyed her braids all the colors of the rainbow -ciel, and owns an art studio that gives him the freedom to create pieces forged from his trauma. Now, Feyi plans to embark on what could be considered her first hot girls summer since her tragic loss. She’s not looking for anything serious, just to dip her toes back into the pool of intimacy she’s avoided in her sadness. Feyi has forged a completely new life for herself, but romantic closeness of any kind is still missing.

She couldn’t remember the last time someone had just kissed her desperately and then lay in bed breathing in each other’s air. No, it was a lie. Jonah was the last time…she didn’t want to talk about what it was like trying to learn to be safe with someone who wasn’t the dead love of her life.

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Windows like this into Feyis’ naked inner turmoil are constant; the intertwining of his guilt, his lust, his sadness and his love splashed across the page in a heartbreaking reflection of ours, as the reader. For many of us, the summer of 2022 feels like coming out of a time of deep grief and isolation in an effort to remember how to feel alive again. This is where Emezis’ writing really shines: his ability to capture complex emotions and situations and mold them like hot putty into something the reader can, if not identify with, at least comprehend and comprehend. .

This is especially true of the perhaps polarizing romance at the heart of You have made a fool of death with your beauty. When Feyi and Nasir arrive on the island, they are warmly welcomed by her father, Alim Blake, the nineteen-year-old celebrity chef Feyis senior. She is immediately struck by her attraction to him, which she tries and fails to bury inside her. Despite being a first romance novel writer, Emezi clearly understands the importance of a slow burn as Feyi and Alim surround each other, trying not to get caught up in the other counters. dangerous current. It’s an unconventional romance, but one that Emezi portrays with excruciating care. Amir and Feyi bond over their many similarities: the loss of a partner, their bisexuality, their love of art. Emezi gives us time to warm up to this attraction and see it for what it is: messy, complicated, and for better or worse brutally real.

After their first kiss, Alim boldly asks Feyi what it meant to her. Before she can answer, he insists on his need for honesty: And please, I only ask one thing, don’t lie to me. I will hold everything you tell me with care, that it is just the truth. This is perhaps a striking difference between You made a fool of death with your beauty and many other modern novels: here there is no misunderstanding for the pleasure of the plot. Feyi and Alim carefully hold every decision, every kiss, in their hands with close inspection. Emezi allows our trust in these characters to grow alongside their trust in each other, making the romance all the sweeter and all the more fragile. And it’s fragile, as real-life complications stand in their way. There’s Alims disapproving of the kids, Feyis’ life in Brooklyn, and their past tragedies threatening to drown out the spark they lit.

Despite the heaviness at the heart of the novel, it is yet another ideal beach read. The lush tropical setting of Alims House looks like something out of an HGTV dream house series, with infinity pools, a sunrise courtyard hike, and two kitchens worthy of a celebrity chef. Emezis’ descriptions of Alims’ cooking throughout the novel will make your mouth water and that won’t even include the mention of a certain steamy scene involving a handful of gourmet mango mousse. There’s also Joy, Feyis’ best friend, who pops up every once in a while via text or Facetime with hilarious banter and the occasional genuine advice. You’re never ready for shit, Feyi, Joy thinks. Jump into the deep end already and see if you remember how to swim.

You made a fool of death with your beauty: a novel

You made a fool of death with your beauty: a novel

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Emezi walks a delicate tightrope between summer romance and thoughtful literary fiction, but it’s one they navigate with impeccable balance. It’s tender and fearless to bury yourself in the darker parts of love, the places we rarely want to revisit, especially after trauma and loss. You made a fool of death with your beauty asks us to sit in the mess, the sadness, the tumultuous waves of real life, and consider what has been wrought by this calculation. Can love and joy flourish where grief has already planted its deep roots?

Whether you turn its pages with the ocean before you or not, You made a fool of death with your beauty captures the summer feeling of embracing every moment for what it is. Like Feyi, our very existences rest on life-changing seconds, both opening up the world and disrupting the world. It’s up to you whether you’ll dive into the depths or stay on shore.

Kirby Beaton is a writer, strategist and book reviewer at BuzzFeed. She also talks all things book related in her newsletter, reserved for you.

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