Book Review

THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI by Akwaeke Emezi

Rating: 4.5 / 5

I got THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI Akwaeke Emezi when it came out as a Book of the Month pick. A buddy read for it in December finally pushed me to pick it up! This author has been on my radar for a while and I have seen a lot of praise for this novel!

THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI begins with the knowledge that Vivek has been killed, though we don’t know the full story. He is left naked, but wrapped up on his mother’s front porch at their home in Nigeria, but no one knows exactly how he died. We are told that the market was burned that same day, but it isn’t clear if there is a correlation or not.

As the book continues, Emezi gives us multiple timelines and POVs to give Vivek’s story from the beginning and all that has been happening in the present day. Vivek has dealth with physical and mental health along with exploring his feelings about himself. His family has thought him odd, a boy who grew out his hair, dressed in a feminine manner and lived a very unconventional life, but in the aftermath of Vivek’s death, they are also trying to find out Vivek’s reality and come to terms with their own sense that they let him down.

This novel is so beautifully written. I absolutely fell in love with Emezi’s gorgeous writing and descriptive language and the rest of their books will absolutely be going on my TBR! This story is heartbreaking, a family full of secrets and shame and an unwillingness to fully be open about all that is going on. At the same time it is full of love as Vivek develops a found family among his friends, people who support him no matter what.

The multiple perspectives and timelines are done very well, including shifts between first and third person. We get to hear from Vivek’s cousin Osita who has the most insight of his family and Vivek himself. With the jumps back and forth in the narrative, I was concerned at first that I would lose track of where I was in the story, but it is well constructed and I never lost track even when switching between print and audio.

This is a story that is well worth picking up and one that will absolutely hit you in the heart!

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