You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

The best love stories I hear come from complicated entanglements, and it takes a certain kind of audacity and boldness. You need to be ready to take the necessary risks, the leaps of faith, and the uncertainties because you are really not sure if this thing you have will work, but you take that risk regardless.

What I learned from You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty is that love stories are not always that simple. They aren’t less complicated, and it’s not always straightforward. Sometimes beautiful bonds can be forged from the most unlikely of places.

The book is an ode to complicated love stories, affirming their love, and offering solidarity and support, saying, “you are not alone darling, your choices are not out of this world, it’s okay darling, it’s okay to be selfish, it’s okay to choose you; in fact, choose you, the world would not blow up in flames, choose you.”


Feyi, a young artist, meets Nasir through Milan, who was her fuck buddy. On a vacation/ work visit with Nasir to his homeland, Feyi meets Alim, Nasir’s father,, and immediately develops feelings for him (you can call it love at first sight).

Nasir develops feelings for Feyi and is willing to wait for when Feyi is ready to reciprocate those feelings and give them a shot at a relationship.

Feyi, a young widow whose pain has eaten the fabric of her happiness and living for five years, finally decides through the pressure of her best friend Joy to live again; and that one night she dares to live again leads to a series of unlikely events she was not ready for.

The opening lines would have you believe that the antagonist Feyi is the type of woman who is out for a good time, very ruthless, and lives for the moment. You would even think Feyi is the kind of woman who is in the habit of having sex with strangers in public bathrooms. But subsequently, in the story, we learn about all the complications Feyi comes with.

Feyi and Nasir are not in a relationship, but they are in a friendship that includes kissing, cuddling, and making out. Obviously, Nasir has feelings for Feyi, but Feyi does not feel ready for anything with Nasir. But she likes that he isn’t forcing her, so they settle for a comfortable friendship.

The first-day Feyi saw Nasir, their eyes locked, and she felt she was on the path to something but was not quite sure what it was. Well, let’s just say Nasir was the path that led her to Alim.

Many readers massacre Feyi for the decisions she took after Nasir, but who dictates what choices one makes in love? The moralist would instead want Feyi to deny herself happiness or contentment just because of how she met Alim and the hurt she would cause to Nasir.

But, over again, I say that Feyi owed Nasir nothing. He wanted to love her, and the girl said she was not ready because she didn’t feel quite the same; he said they should be friends and take it slow. Nasir suggested this in hopes that Feyi would come to love him and accept a relationship, which is fair. Feyi may or may not have changed her mind. She may or may not have fallen for Nasir. You can even argue that she may have if Alim never came into the picture. But Alim did and Feyi, for the first time in 5 years since the death of her husband Jonah, felt her stomach knot and her chest constrict for a man other than Jonah.

Regardless of the circumstances that led her to Alim, she deserved happiness.

People are so warped up with people denying themselves pleasure and good things for the sake of the greater good that when a person chooses themselves first, they are seen as bad people. I’m all for being selfish and drawing blood regardless of the circumstances.

I know lots of people would not understand the dynamics of Feyi and Alim’s relationship but let me attempt to explain it.

Feyi has known death. She and Alim are well acquainted with grief and pain. They both understand what it means to lose someone you love and the heart-wrenching pain you have to deal with. How you have to shut yourself to the world, be a recluse, sit in unexplainable pain and not be able to give language to your feelings, and everyone around you, after a while, just wants you to dust up and continue your life.

When Feyi and Alim meet well, the universe works for them, and magic starts to happen😂(I am being overly dramatic here). Feyi immediately develops feelings for Alim at first sight, which she called a crush initially. I can’t say if it’s the same for Alim, but eventually he comes to also feel for her- feelings they both ignore.

This is before they know each other’s stories and pain. The feeling is uncontrollable, and when it eventually bursts out, it threatens to hurt people that they love and care for. Feyi doesn’t have much to lose anyway, but Alim does, and for the first time in his life, he is ready to risk it all for Feyi.

The way they conducted their “relationship” makes me ache for something like that- so soft, open, thoughtful, and kind. When Feyi tries to turn the tables on Alim and run, it is what Alim tells her that stays with me to date:

“If you are telling that you are not worth it, I will listen to you.”

Feyi and Alim are definitely my go-to people in this story.

Let’s talk about Joy. Joy seems to be the craziest best friend in this book but also the voice of wisdom to Feyi. The opening pages of this book are enough to give you an insight into how mental she is. She is blunt, goes for what she wants, and tries to teach Feyi to live. I love Joy’s friendship with Feyi, the sisterhood, and grounding. Wherever Joy is, Feyi felt safe. It’s the kind of support system that we ache for in this life, that we want for, the kind that gives us the strength to soldier on.

Nasir seems to be most hurt in this, but like Milan told Feyi, Nasir is yet to sit with pain; he has no idea what it means to be acquainted with pain and loneliness that cannot be filled. And whatever happens, he will be fine.

Fans of Nasir have called Alim and Feyi names, but I don’t see how Feyi hurt Nasir because she was honest with him from the beginning. Whatever he did for her, it was because he wanted to, and Feyi always double-checked that it was as friends. The only thing she did badly was marring their friendship, that’s all.

This book is romance steeped in grief; it has queer characters in there, but it’s how Akwaeke finds a way to teach something every single time, and it is that there are many colors and intersections when it comes to queerness. Feyi and Alim are typical examples.

The book is a far cry from the heavy themes Akwaeke is known for writing. This is romance, light,, and funny, something you would not associate with Akwaeke, but that is what makes writing beautiful- the diversity of it.

I encourage you not to read this book with the intention of measuring it with other books Akwaeke has written. Rather, you should come to it with an open mind intention to enjoy a good book. I have reread it for the 100th time since its release, and I still do not feel full. It cracks me up all the time. I am definitely in love with this.

I very much recommend this book with all the gods in my village backing me!

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