Review: The Death of Vivek Oki

Author: Akwaeke Emezi – click here for author’s website

Plot Summary: “One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings.” (via Amazon)

My Overall Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 (5 out of 5)

My Two Cents: This book was a mindf*ck and a heartf*ck. It illustrates the beauty in the fluidity of gender and sexuality, but wrenches your heart because that beauty is constricted by a society that criminalizes said fluidity at best, and treats it as a death sentence at worst. It questions the validity of loving someone who is struggling to love themself, and under what conditions love can and cannot transcend.

I could not put this book down. I stayed up until midnight because I was almost at the end. But then I didn’t want it to end, so I forced myself to put the book down and read the last pages the next day slowly, through a feeling of deep heartbreak. I—like Osita, JuJu, and Kavita—wasn’t ready to say farewell to Vivek. I felt a sense of longing to know more about Vivek. But, wasn’t that the point? Each of those characters were mourning the love they had for Vivek while also wrestling with the deep uncertainty about if they ever truly knew ALL of who Vivek was. They needed Vivek to live-on, too. Yet somehow, everyone, Vivek included, needed death to enter the frame in order to love more clearly. I also want to honor Nnemdi, but I don’t want to give spoilers here (!!!).

Favorite Quote or Passage: “Some people can’t see softness without wanting to hurt it.”

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