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Review: 'Someday, Maybe' by Onyi Nwabineli

Some books you can’t put down similar to the way you can’t tap out of life. You want to wake up again in the world you have dove into and continue to spend your days there, even if brutal, ugly or ordinary because they are so deep and layered that you want to understand everything about them. This is one of those books. What do you do when your husband; the love of your life, takes his own life out of the blue? In ‘Someday, Maybe’, Eve, our flawed protagonist is grieving the loss of her husband Quentin (Q) deeply and it follows her as her friends and family try to help her navigate life after his death. Grief is the silent (but excruciatingly loud) main character in the book, and we see how not only Eve struggles to handle Q’s death, but also both their family and friends. While of course there is no easy way to grieve, Nwabineli succeeds in making you feel just how deeply devastating Q’s death is to Eve - it strains what appears to once have been very close family ties to the point of near break; isolates her in a pool of despair at the smallest reminder of him; and reduces the importance of everything else in her life, including her career, to almost nothing. You feel incredibly sorry for her but also want to shake her out of it. Aspen, her icy mother-in-law, also remains an ever present ghost in the background of Eve’s grief, vengefully processing the pain of losing her only son by constantly increasing the pressure on Eve to deal with the mess that Q’s death has left. While bittersweet, it’s beautiful to see how different people in her life pull together to support Eve in their own ways, whether it is her brother Nate, practical and consistent, offering lifts and companionship, or her best friend Bee distracting her with office gossip, or new friends who are used show life after Q is possible and can still be joyful. Nwabineli demonstrates the value of both of Eve’s families; her biological family, who know her inside out and are constantly there despite their worry and frustrations over her wellbeing, and her chosen family of friends, who know when to crack a joke, when to deliver a harsh truth, and when to just bring food. Nwabineli’s dark wit keeps you chuckling throughout the book, despite its sad subject, which endears you to Eve in the moments where her behaviour feels outlandish and unreasonable, and prevents it from feeling too heavy to keep reading. Part of what keeps you hooked, but also baffled is the not knowing around Q’s decision to end his life, which is the point in many ways - death (particularly suicide) is not a neat little story that you can package up for an unknowing audience to understand. Just as Eve is questioning and turning many realities over in her mind, we as readers are too. Why did he do it? What was he really like before? How did no one see this coming? What does this mean for everyone else in his life? Just like Eve, we come to acknowledge that Q’s life existed outside of their relationship, which was not always as idyllic as her grief-tinted nostalgia would have it seem, and that this does not mean the end of her life, only a new chapter. A stunning, witty, and beautiful story that you absolutely must read.

Some books you can’t put down similar to the way you can’t tap out of life. You want to wake up again in the world you have dove into...

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