What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
Rating: 5 stars
This short story collection is incredible. Arimah focuses on the lives of women and their relationships, especially between mothers and daughters or others within their families. Each story features women who need more than society has given them, whether it’s their parents’ approval, love, a sense of belonging, or just someone to listen to and believe them.
I think her best stories are the ones focused on the relationships between mothers and daughters, such as the tragic story “Windfall.” A mother uses her daughter in her schemes to get settlements from grocery stores when her daughter falls and injures herself. While this sustains them financially throughout the daughters childhood, her unplanned pregnancy at 16 leads both of them to reflect on what makes a good mother.
Also, “Wild” touches on the mother daughter dynamic even when the cousins take center stage. You can see the different relationships each cousin has with their own mother and that can make all the difference in their lives and own sense of worth.
The most haunting moment came from the first story, “The Future Looks Good.” While it took me a while to understand what was going on, I was not prepared for the shocking ending. It seemed a fitting sign of the stories to come, though. Also, the description of Ezinma as “pretty, yes, but in that manageable way that causes little offense,” is sadly accurate for how women are viewed today. They must be pretty, but not too pretty like her sister or, worst of all, know they are pretty and that it is valued.
I highly recommend this to anyone interested in short stories, family relationships, and Nigerian literature.