what is not yours is not yours, helen oyeyemi
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Riverhead Books
Source: Galley giveaway from Publisher
Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).
Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.
My issue with short stories is often -What the heck?! I want more! Or often -What the heck – that was so short why was it a story?
I definitely did not have that issue with this new collection by Helen Oyeyemi. Some stories like “books and roses” or “drownings” I could have read much more of to get into the worlds she created. I would love to know more about the wolf present in “dornicka and the st. martin’s day goose”. But even though I would have read had I had more pages I was completely satisfied with what I read. The stories were so rich and detailed and captivating. Even while the puppets weren’t my favorite I still was swept up in the drama and the characters. The magical realism in these stories definitely carried me away.
The writing was beautiful and mystical and I have so many questions about what I just read. Definitely a book I will be taking time to reread and savor. The stories were both haunting and delightful. I definitely will not be looking at my keys in the same way for a while.
Thank you Riverhead Books for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.