Monday, March 30, 2015

Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta

Happiness, Like Water is a suspenseful collection of short stories. Several of the stories are liberating, but several of them are tragic. They illustrate what can happen when women succumb to external pressure or expectations. This is demonstrated with overt cultural connotations, but I think the stories are universal. 

Chinwe is a woman who marries to satisfy her mother. Unfortunately, the man loves his toys more than he loves her. There is Ezinne, a woman whose husband’s “patience is running out” because she has not conceived a child. Uzoamaka, a girl whose mother uses skin lightening creams and insists that she does the same. Nneoma, single and childless, commits unthinkable acts against women who are married and pregnant. Ada is a student whose mother becomes ill. She needs money for medical treatment so she trusts a friend, that makes money by entertaining men, to arrange a meeting for her to do the same. Ada tragically learns that “private dinners” and “intelligent conversations” are not the only things some of the men expect. And the stories of several more women follow...

The book was enjoyable but several of the stories end abruptly, which is one of the reasons I steer clear of short stories. They leave you wanting more. Or maybe that's the point. Okparanta’s second novel, Under the Udala Trees, will be published on September 22, 2015. I've already added it to my to-read list.

“Happiness is like water. We’re always trying to grab onto it, but it’s always slipping between our fingers.”
Happiness, Like Water

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Happiness, Like Water on Amazon
Under the Udala Trees on Amazon


Jacqueline said...

I am not really a fan of reading a collection of short stories either. I was going to try this selection, because I thought it was a novel. I guess I'll pass on it.

Shannon @ Reading Has Purpose said...

Krik?Krak! is an excellent collection of short stories. It's actually the book that made me realize that maybe I could like short stories. The Dew Breaker is also a collection of short stories that are cleverly interwoven to create a novel. It's the first book that ever made my mouth drop open. Both are by Edwidge Danticat.

This is Okparanta's first book and I always take that into account. I'm genuinely looking forward to her upcoming novel.

Darkowaa said...

Nice review! I personally thought the stories ended perfectly, as compared to Adichie's "The Thing Around Your Neck" which seemed very incomplete lol. "Happiness, Like Water" is my favorite short stories collection. I'm still yet to read Krik? Krak! by Danticat. Hopefully I like that collection too!

Shannon @ Reading Has Purpose said...

Short stories in general are starting to grow on me. I just picked up Tiphanie Yanique's "How to Escape From a Leper Colony" and will be reading that collection in the coming weeks.

CambaBooks said...

I love short story collections as I often do not have the patience to read massive numbers of pages of to get to the end of a book. Nice review!

Shannon said...

@CambaBooks, I realized that I loved short story collections last year. I've purchased quite a few since then. I like Happiness, Like Water now more than when I initially read it. I've found myself missing some of the characters and sitting around thinking about them.