Would you rather have loved and lost or never loved at all? I feel like this question crosses my mind every few months, but after reading You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi, it’s all I’ve been thinking about. On the one hand, you’d never have to feel the devastating heartbreak of losing the one you love, but to not have that at all means to never have the chance to experience those moments of overflowing joy that being in love brings you.
Emezi’s new novel follows the life of Feyi Adekola, a woman who is working on healing after losing the love of her life in a tragic accident five years ago. When this bold heroine slowly reenters the world of dating, she is sent on a journey of finding herself again and seeing where a partner could fit into her life.
I was entranced as I followed the ups and downs of Feyi’s story. It all starts off when Feyi begins to go out to parties again at the request of her best friend and roommate, Joy. The plan was to slowly ease back into the dating scene, but that one steamy night changes everything and meeting a man at a rooftop party leads to an extravagant trip with him to his father’s mansion on a tropical island. It’s basically my dream island escape, filled with mouthwatering meals prepared by his celebrity-chef father and hikes to beautiful sunsets. But, without giving too many twists away, this too-good-to-be-true trip takes quite a turn once feelings develop.
Even though this is a romance, the story does not follow every trope to a tee. Just as Emezi added new layers to the mystery genre in The Death of Vivek Oji, they contribute a fresh voice to the romance genre. As I was reading the first few chapters of this book, I was turning the pages waiting and waiting for the other shoe to drop because Emezi was toying with my expectations, and I loved it. Feyi’s equally hopeful and heartbreaking story is extra special because of the balance between watching her give love another chance and the growth this experience gives her.
But You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty is not just Feyi’s story. Emezi has created such a vibrant and engaging set of characters that each of them could honestly have their own book. Usually, the main character of a book ends up being my favorite because we learn so much more about them and what goes on in their head, but with this book, I couldn’t pick a favorite. I just loved the friendship between Feyi and Joy so much that if I had to pick a favorite, I’d just squish them both into one mega-character.
This veteran author’s first foray into romance weaves a beautiful tale about what the future could bring if you open yourself up to the opportunities that come your way. It has the perfect balance of classic romance tropes, but Emezi also adds in their literary fiction style to bring this story to life. You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty is easily one of my favorite reads of the year so far, and I cannot recommend it enough.
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