Fiction, non-fiction, poetry and now contemporary romance, there’s simply nothing Akwaeke Emezi cannot do. Nada.
At once, a searing Black love story and a visceral exploration of life after loss, You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty is a genre-defying read, guaranteed to go straight to the top of your fave reads of 2022. Thrumming with sensuality and boasting complex female characters, an addictive plot and bi representation (we love to see it), it’s got all the ingredients of a 5-star read.
Here’s what the team thought of this summer’s hottest romance.
Content Warning: Grief, death, car accident
Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.
It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.
She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?
Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.
Screaming, yelling, shaking. I flew through You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty within a matter of days, such is the power of its readability. Not only is the story incredibly human and seriously hooky but Akwaeke’s writing is immaculate – they have such a talent for dialogue! Whenever I was forced to put this book down to eat or ya know socialise (even then, I wouldn’t be stopped, snatching a page here and there), I couldn’t wait to get back to it and find out what else was about to unfold in protagonist Feyi’s life. As well as being a deeply emotional romance, it’s also a story about the power of female friendship, queer love, learning how to live alongside unimaginable grief and the fight for self-discovery, albeit with plenty of messy and complicated entanglements along the way, as the case is in YMAFODWYB. You won’t necessarily support Feyi’s decisions throughout this book, but you will be rooting for her. This is my first experience of reading Akwaeke Emezi’s work and I was not disappointed. Their pen is impeccable! Sidenote: I would like a whole second book on Joy please.
Rating: 5 shiny immaculate pristine GOLD stars
Would you recommend it: YES. The mango whipped cream scene will live in your mind rent free.
This was the PERFECT romance novel to sink my teeth into in July, without being a typical cliche beach read (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I could completely relate to Feyi throughout the story, losing a partner at any age would be horrific but when you are young I think people just expect you to be able to move on quickly with your life and find someone else. Feyi escaping to New York is exactly the kind of move I’d make, wanting to just join the noise and recreate your being. I was all in for Feyi and her journey to get back on the proverbial horse of sex and romance. This is such a vibrant novel, from the food to the music and island descriptions, and of course the sex. Akwaeke Emezi is simply put a fantastic author, and I immediately want to pick up all their other books, because I connected with the writing style so much. Ditch your cliche rom-com this summer and pick up You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, you won’t regret it.
Would you recommend it: Absolutely, pick it up this summer!
“A reimagined love story, this fresh and seductive novel is about a young woman seeking joy while healing from loss.”- I was sold from the start!
This title reminded me a little of The 1975 Album I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, and so even if it hadn’t been a Zoella book club pick I definitely would have been drawn to it on the shelf in Waterstones! I love a long, emotive title.
After losing the love of her life 5 years ago in a car accident, it’s only now (along with the encouragement of her best friend, Joy) that Feyi feels ready to dip her toe back into the world of dating and find out how it feels to date as a widow.
Exploring love, loss, trauma, friendship and sexuality whilst feeling authentically messy and intense from start to finish, I found this book all-consuming in its exploration of starting afresh and the idea that our lives are forever evolving. Akwaeke takes you takes you on a real journey with their writing, as you almost feel to be sharing Feyi’s joy, grief, freedom and anxieties. Beautifully descriptive, the storytelling itself is 5, and I loved* delving deep into Feyi’s complex yet hopeful journey from start to end. The perfect easy yet poignant holiday read IMO!
Would you recommend it: 100%!
The title of the book definitely hooked me from the offset, You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty, so captivating!
The book centres around Feyi, who lost her high school sweetheart 5 years ago in a car wreck, while she navigates her grief she moves to New York, a place she feels she can hide as the fast-paced city swallows her up. After years of numbness, her desires for sexual intimacy begin to rise and we follow Feyi test the waters of different relationships. I loved the rawness of this book and the exploration of learning to live again with such unimaginable grief, Feyi’s self exploration (if not somewhat messy) is real and painful, but it shows what it truly means to be alive (that word comes up a lot!).
I have never read any work from Akwaeke Emezi’s before but they truly are an extraordinary story teller, I’ve ordered Freshwater to read next!
Would you recommend it: Absolutely!
Next month we’ll be reading The Set-Up by Lizzy Dent!