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Things They Lost by Okwiri Oduor

Things They Lost is a story about Ayosa, a girl coming to grips with her past while striving for a brighter future. The writing is lovely and interwoven with magical and supernatural elements that make you feel as if you’re in another world. However, there are themes and issues that are so real and relatable you might laugh, or cry, in recognition.

I have to begin by stating that I LOVED this book, it is one of the most unique experiences I’ve had with a novel. I really came to adore Ayosa Apple Crust and Mbiu Tetanus. I was drawn in by the detail of their games and make believe, the kind of play we seem to only be capable of as children. I was clutching my chest during the last few pages (don’t worry, I won’t give spoilers).

Now that I’ve let you all know how much I loved it, I have to say that there was a point, a hundred pages in when I thought to myself ‘What is this book about?’. As readers, we’ve been trained to expect a three-act structure with characters with clear goals. But what is Ayosa’s goal? To be with her Mother? To not be alone? To have a sister? We simply follow her through a pivotal time in her life and get exposed to the fantastical world she lives in. I love magical realism stories (I write them myself) and I enjoy how Odour mixes supernatural elements with the mundane.

I also enjoy her lush descriptions and captivating writing. I love the recurring themes and how they tie together. I love the vivid, tangible characters and the slow burn of the story unfolding. All in all, I would say this book is lowkey a masterpiece and I think it takes incredible skill to write something like this and have it be so engaging and memorable.

I can see how this book might be divisive but I fell in love with Oduor's descriptions of the interior life of a thirteen year old girl, how she yearns for friendship and how she treasures it once it's found. I loved this book and I recommend it.


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