Our February 2023 Book Club Pick!
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi is one of the best romances I have ever read. Emezi subverts the genre by placing unconventional literary mechanisms and heavily relies on their tried and true literary fiction style. I love romances now, but in the past I felt like they weren’t serious enough. This was the first Black romance I read that felt light and fun, but still felt like it took my breath away from the level of artistic writing.
For those readers who are fans of drama, this one has lots of it for you. After the devastating loss of her first love, Feyi has spent the past years grieving. One summer, she decides that she is going to stop feeling guilty and start making choices that make her feel alive. These choices sweep her off her feet and lead her down the path of second-chance love, even if that love may seem impractical.
You Made a Fool of Death solidified Akwaeke Emezi as my favorite contemporary author. The way they write about grief and love so intimately took my breath away. Emezi is such a talented writer, and they have a gift in which they don’t make literary fiction feel inaccessible for readers who are looking more for a fun read.
You Made a Fool of Death has received mixed reviews. The story can be quite controversial, and Feyi, the main character, is seen as a messy woman. Books with Black women who are characterized as having “moral flaws” are judged harsher than books that have white morally ambiguous characters (just look at the obsession with the study of white serial killers in mainstream media). Humanity is messy, and characters like Feyi can have a beautiful love story, even if we personally may not make the same choices.
Typical romance novels usually follow a formula: characters meet at the beginning through a trope of some sort (enemies to lovers, fake relationship, love triangle, etc.), they are put in circumstances that make them grow as a couple, then conflict and resolution. The way the lovers meet is so unconventional (and controversial), but the way they see and know each other, you can’t help but root for them. And the spicy scenes are some of the hottest I’ve read (be prepared on the very first page).
Despite other readers’ opinions about Feyi, she is probably one of my favorite protagonists. She is a complex character who has experienced significant grief, but she is also an artist full of magnificent creativity. She loves other people fiercely, but she also loves and prioritizes herself. This was my greatest takeaway from the story, that I am inherently deserving of living the life that makes me feel alive.
This is the best book I read in 2022. I recommend it to everyone who loves romances and everyone who struggles to take romances seriously. Afterward, you can’t tell me you don’t want gold box braids after this!
Get the audiobook here! Looking for more audiobooks? You can get a discounted Libro.fm membership
Are you looking to fall in love with reading again? Looking to find phenomenal books written by Black authors? Join the Modern Green Book book club powered by Liberation is Lit. In this book club we read all things Black! Our book club selections are handpicked from different prolific Black storytellers ranging in genres.
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