Waiting On Wednesday – What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where bloggers can showcase books that we are eagerly waiting for.

This week I’m highlighting What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

Publication date: March 8th 2016 by Riverhead Books


Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason). 


Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.

Why I’m Waiting

This year I have been thoroughly enjoying short story collections, which I never expected would happen. For years, I found them to be lacking in depth and scope, and didn’t believe profoundly meaningful stories could be told through short stories. Clearly, I was reading the wrong kinds of stories because this year, Saadia Faruqi and Benjamin Alire Saenz proved me wrong and wowed me with beautiful, poignant tales.

Helen Oyeyemi has been writing for several years now, and she seems to be a divisive writer. People either love her books and are moved by them or they hate the writing and find it confusing and strange. I’m just eager to see what all the fuss is about for myself! The idea of “keys” as a thematic link between the stories sounds promising. I truly hope this collection convinces me once and for all that I was utterly wrong for diminishing the value of short stories.

Goodreads | Amazon

What are you looking forward to this Wednesday?

3 thoughts on “Waiting On Wednesday – What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

    1. It looks like we both picked books we want to read! Have you read any of Helen Oyeyemi’s work? This one would be my first. I’m requesting it on NetGalley and hopefully I get it!

      I’ll be sure to read your review for Into White!

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