Book Review: The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi

The Opposite House tells the story of Maja, a black Cuban living in London with her family and boyfriend, and Yemaya who lives in Somewherehouse, which has two doors that lead to London and Lagos. This book focuses on immigration, culture, searching for truth and discovering oneself.


I do know that the author is Yoruba and that was the reason the connection with Yoruba made a bit of sense to me at the beginning. And I do know this is a work of fiction so it doesn’t have to accurately depict reality. But I wish the author talked more about Cuban culture like the food, music, gods etc and not just infuse her own culture into the book. Although, towards the end I found out Maja’s family may have come from Abeokuta, Nigeria.

Yemaya’s narrative seemed to me like she was in a dream. It was hard to assume that was her reality. Maybe she’s a spirit or a goddess? It was hard for me to make sense of her parts, although, they were small compared to Maja’s. Maja’s stories made sense, they were all over the place, but I understood them. However, I failed to understand how Maja and Yemaya were connected. Their stories were not even close to being alike.

It was also confusing following up with the different stories in the book. There was no swift transition to the next story, be it in the past or present. In one paragraph the author will be telling us the story of a younger Maja in Cuba and the next paragraph she’s telling us the story of an older pregnant Maja in London with Aaron, her white boyfriend. Few times I had to go back to check if I missed anything in order to make sense of what I was currently reading.

Most of the books I’ve read tend to answer all my questions towards the end. But after reading The Opposite House, I still had many questions left unanswered. I was really hyped about this author, especially seeing how many people were on the wait list for her books in the New York Public Library. The most I’ve ever seen. But I was disappointed with this book, it’s a miss for me. However, I plan to read another book from her, hoping to have a hit.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only that struggled with her book. I actually have what is not yours is not yours and it’s my next read. Wish me luck lol

      Like

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