Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli

“Grief is not neat. Pain is not dignified. Both are ugly, visceral things. They rip holes through you and burst forth when they see fit. They are constant, controlling companions, and if they don’t destroy you or your relationship with others, they certainly go a long way to damaging you […] There is nothing eloquent about my grief.”

Someday, Maybe is a book that interrogates the many faces and stages of grief. Yet, despite the heavy subject matter, the prose retains this lightness that kept me turning pages. The first quarter of the book brought to mind a favorite author of mine, Mhairi McFarlane, minus the comedy. That is not to say that Someday, Maybe lacks wit, Eve happens to be a very engrossing narrator who is more than capable of making amusing remarks. Some of the interactions that she has with her family members could also be rooted in humor. The novel however retains a somber and eventually bittersweet tone that will definitely appeal to readers who are looking for a read that will pull at their heartstrings.
The novel revolves around the aftermath of Eve’s husband’s sucide. Eve and Quentin, who goes by Q, met at uni where, in spite of their different backgrounds (she is British-Nigerian, he is as from a very white and exceedingly wealthy British family), they were able to form a very strong bond. Eve struggles to reconcile herself with Q’s suicide, and spirals into depression. Her grief manifests itself in many different ways so that she finds herself unable to think of anything or anyone outside of Q. She blames herself for not being able to prevent his death, for not having realized that he was struggling.
Eve’s family and her best friend attempt to be there for her but she often finds herself pushing them away in what becomes a withdrawal from life. Her mother-in-law, who due to racist and/or classist motives was opposed to their match, seems after her, making cruel accusations and seeming intent on making Eve’s life even more difficult than it already is. The narrative renders Eve’s sadness, confusion, anger, and despair with empathy and insight. While we do get glimpses into Eve’s relationship with Q, how they met, their years together, and the tension caused by his mother, the focus remains on Eve ‘now’ and the overwhelming grief she feels in the days, weeks, and months after Q’s sucide.
I liked Eve’s interactions with her family members. Her moments with her father were particularly touching. Her best friend serves more of a clichéd role, that of the spunky no-nonsense best friend who is there to cheer you up and encourages you to get your shit together. Alas, as much as I liked the author’s writing and the dynamics in her book, several plot points did not agree with me. What happens with Eve’s workplace struck me as very rushed and not particularly credible given her circumstances and her role within her company. There is a ‘revelation’ that is truly eye-roll worthy in that it is the kind of plot device I expect from Netflix originals. Additionally, I swear this ‘twist’ is often used in books/media that focus on widowed women and the like. Come on. There is something very sentimental and slightly manipulative about this type of plotline (‘here is a reason to go on’ type of thing). I would go as far as to call it one of my least favorite tropes, period. The evil mother-in-law was ridiculous and I wished she had been portrayed as more believable. I did not want her to be nice or likable but I do believe that having her be a caricature of the disapproving snobby mother-in-law did the story no favors. Lastly, the latter half of the book strayed too closely to Eat, Pray, Love territory. I am just not the right reader for this type of soapy/schmalzy reveals and healing ‘journeys’.
I just wished that the story had remained focused on Eve and her family dynamics, rather than the later plot-line…still, I did like the way the author articulates Eve’s grief and the writing was fairly engaging.
But by no means do not let me dictate whether you should read this or not. If you are a fan of emotional and heartfelt stories about loss, love, and healing, definitely add this to your tbr list.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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