An Unusual Grief
by Yewande Omotoso
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Pub Date 12 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 13 Sep 2021
Cassava Republic, Cassava Republic Press
How do you get to know your daughter when she is dead?
This is the question which takes a mother on a journey of self-discovery. When her daughter Yinka dies, Mojisola is finally forced to stop running away from the difficulties in their relationship, and also come to terms with Yinka the woman.
Mojisola's grief leads her on a journey of self-discovery, as she moves into her daughter's apartment and begins to unearth the life Yinka had built for herself there, away from her family. Through stepping into Yinka's shoes, Mojisola comes to a better understanding not only of her estranged daughter, but also herself, as she learns to carve a place for herself in the world beyond the labels of wife and mother.
A bold and unflinching tale of one women's unconventional approach to life and loss.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 17 members
An Unusual Grief follows Moji, a middle-aged woman, whose adult daughter Yinka has died at the age of 24. The story follows Moji trying to unravel her daughter’s final days, partly to try and discover why she died, and partly to reconnect with the daughter she felt she no longer knew.
The character of Moji is a warm, engaging woman who lost her way as an adult; she gave up her career ambitions thanks to her husband’s and the general misogyny of the era. She lost the relationship with her daughter thanks to a passing comment and a moment of lost conversation.
Through her search for her daughter’s life, she meets a curmudgeonly landlady, an Afrikaans carpenter, and a Nigerian businessman who emphasises her disconnect from her own history when she cannot recall the Yoruba he charms her with. Moji is relatable, and the way in which she is unmoored feels like something we can all relate to.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt lost, though I don’t think you need to be as adrift as Moji to appreciate the sense of disconnect from her ambitions, hopes, and love.
Thank you to Cassava Republic and NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of An Unusual Grief in exchange for an honest review.
An Unusual Grief begins with a death. The protagonist, Mojisola, learns her daughter Yinka has died by suicide. She journeys from Cape Town to Yinka's apartment in Johannesburg and is left to collect what pieces she has left. This death comes after a period of separation between Yinka and her parents. Since this separation, or perhaps even earlier, she was something of an enigma to her mother, with a mind incomprehensible to her despite her deep yearning to "act as a mother" and shelter her daughter. By taking up in Yinka's apartment and uncovering what her life was before it wasn't, Mojisola tries to understand who her daugher was and why she is gone.
Omotoso's writing is poignant and distinct. As the title suggests, this novel felt unusual in its uniqueness. Mojisola's struggles with motherhood and grief are heavy yet Omotoso deals with this is a lyricism that tugs at the reader, The characters who once surrounded Yinka and come to revolve around Mojisola feel fully realized, particularly, Zelda, the pot smoking landlady and D-man, the BDSM-inclined businessman. Even her at first seemingly useless husband Titus has his own story to undercover. Yet, at the heart of this book is Mojisola and Yinka, one character we fully come to understand and another whose glaring absence is felt as much by the reader as it is by her mother. I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading more by Yewande Omotoso in the future.
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