“I have my hands around her thick coat, trying my best to steal some warmth, a more material form of affection that she can’t hold back from me. But I am wrong. She pushes me away and I notice her breath in the cold air, a horizontal stream fading as it ascends, in imitation of a smoker’s, so I focus on that, remembering another mum and trying not to feel the scorch of her scorn: I’m forced to feel warm.”
The story begins with a young British Ghanaian boy named K as he shares experiences from being a young child to adulthood. We see how he copes being in foster scale and also being looked down upon by others when he was in school and struggle to adapt and fit in. Things are even tougher at home due to his father isn’t around much but when he is he is a vile human being who I genuinely wanted to slap in the face at times. It made me so sad at what K had to endure. We then see him grow into an adult and the struggles that follow him due to depression and mental health issues.
That Reminds Me by Derek Owusu was a hard hitting and poetic read that only took me an hour to finish. It covers a lot of really important themes such as mental health, depression, racism and cultural identity. What surprised me the most was at how well it was written and I wouldn’t have thought this was Derek’s first novel! It flows so much like a poem effortlessly switching to from rhyming to non rhyming. Because the story is structured and told in such a frantic and fractured way it’s delivered in fragments that gives you enough of a glimpse to understand what is happening but not enough to grasp on to it for a long period. K’s memories come as quick as they go from the London riots, K’s sexual experiences in high school and adulthood, and also his exctiment of finally having a little brother.
There are many heavy issues that are explored in this novel, all of which are executed very well. But, I’d say the most hard hitting for me was towards the end when the character of K goes through depression, mental health issues and his struggle in dealing with it.
“The letter starts by saying I seemed to show no signs discomfort. There is a paragraph dedicated to my notation, how well put together I was. No need for diagnosis or follow-up. I put the letter in the bin, walk to he fridge, open it, take out a bottle and drink.”
He isolates himself rather than talking to someone and getting help which really made me think of things on a personal level. It was very emotional and I did have to pause for a good few minutes to take it all in.
English thoughts into Twi and struggling, so I put my hand on her shoulder and tell her not to worry. I’ll be fine. ‘What’s fomenting you, son?’ I explain, im a bit unwell, Mum. Nothing for prayers and paracetamol.’
Overall, I couldn’t fault this what so ever, it’s hard hitting, dark, and really opened my eyes to many things, mainly depression and how important it is to talk to people if you’re going through difficult situation. It’s made me realize how isolating yourself rather than getting help is self destructive and not good at all. This isn’t an easy read due to the sensitive issues explored, but I think everyone should read this as the writing is just phenomenal and really packs a gut punch.
Thank you so much to On Road for sending his me and also Merky Books for publishing this fantastic novel! I am so excited to see what’s to come from them in 2020 and can’t wait to discover more fantastic and talented Black writers ✊🏽