I get that there's not one single book that's going to appeal to every single reader. But sometimes, I'm so much in the minority with my opinions that I wonder if there's something wrong with me. Take this book. I've seen so many glowing, rapturous reviews of it--people passionately love this book. Passionately.
And I'm all, huh. Because for me, it was a struggle to get through.
This should be my sweet spot. I like lovely writing. I like magical realism. I like connected short stories. But although I stayed with it through the end, hoping for a payoff, it never arrived.
It's frustrating, because Oyeyemi is a talented writer and very creative. But I feel like she tried to tie these stories together in ways that were obviously forced. Characters show up in multiple stories, but not in ways that are particularly useful. There's also a recurring theme of keys and locked doors, and sometimes, like in the first story (Books and Roses), those keys and doors play a major role. (That, by the way, is probably the only story that I really did like.) But other times, it's pushed into the story with excessive force. The second story, "Sorry" Doesn't Sweeten Her Tea (and can we all just pause for a moment and admire that as a title?), has a wonderful plot about a young woman who has a major crush on a pop star, but has to find ways to cope when he comes crashing off his pedestal. I would have loved that story all by itself, but there's also the story of another person who is taking care of a friend's fish while the friend is gone for two years, and the friend's house has odd doors that won't stay shut if you don't lock each and every one of them. At the end of that story, in disappointment, I put the book down and had a good hard think: why? Why combine these two disparate storylines? What was the thought process behind it? And the only thing I could come up with was: to get the keys and doors into the story. Later in the book, the friend who owns the odd house shows up again briefly, and I thought, oh, there he is again, so maybe that's another reason she wrote that convoluted storyline.
Well. Whatever the cause, don't take my word for it. You may love this book.