REVIEW: WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY BY LESLEY NNEKA ARIMAH

What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Leslie Nneka Arimah

By Ezioma Kalu

This book is a collection of short stories which centres on female protagonists and their relationships with their parents, how they are raised and how these dynamics shape who they become. My favourite stories from the book are Light, Wild, The future looks good, and War stories.

In Light, there is a struggle of what the child should be and not what she really wants to be, by both her parents.

The mother, studying for her Masters abroad, insists her daughter must appear and be in a certain way, in a way peculiar to the westerners, while the father has a conflicting opinion. This doesn’t go well with the daughter, who wants to live her life by her rules. Enebeli, the father, does not want to lose his daughter, but doesn’t know what to do to keep her too, and so the story slips into a painfully sad ending. There is nothing that can equate a solid parent-child relationship, so when it is lacking, the child does not know where to turn. So she withdraws from both adults, and resorts to her own mind, and does only what she wants to do, and not what is expected of her by both parents to do.

In Wild, a single mother who’s scared her rebellious daughter would go wild if left in America, sends her to Nigeria to go stay with her aunt and cousin. But does Nigeria really have a positive effect on her? It only takes a single night out, for everything to crumble between her and her cousin.

In War stories, a father admonishes her daughter over a game of chess and tells her stories about the war. Her daughter who doesn’t understand the connection between her offences and the war stories would think they don’t make sense, till one day, they do.

In The future looks good, Ezimma does her best in trying to save her sister from an abusive relationship, but maybe at the end, she’s the one that needs saving. I love the style Lesley adopted in this particular story. It starts by revealing a character, Ezimma, who fumbles with the door. She’s focused on the door in front of her, without knowing what’s coming behind. Then a backstory is being told from there. A story about the very beginning, her parents’ first meeting, the war, and everything that followed after.

Her elder sister Biafra, who everyone calls Bibi, because who names their child after a country that doesn’t even exist any longer, is as stubborn as their mother. Ezimma grows up in the shadow of Bibi, like she literally does everything to meet up with Bibi’s standards, but all her efforts are never enough. She cannot be Bibi, she cannot be like her, and she cannot even have what Bibi has. She can’t have pads, can’t play with Bibi’s toys, can’t walk to school with Bibi and her friends. She always yearns for her sister’s love, and when Bibi meets Godwin who treats her badly, Ezimma does all she can to save her sister.

But Ezimma is still fumbling with the keys, and would never know what’s behind her, or what will happen to her from the back, till it happens. This is a very interesting short story collection, written beautifully, humorously. But I didn’t really enjoy the rest of the stories like I did these ones. The stories are quite intriguing, but somehow it takes lots of effort and rereading to flow with the storylines and feel every letter and word. In all, it’s a really great book and I’ll recommend you read it sometime.

I’ll rate it as 4/5.

Culled from: Bookish Pixie

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