Review: “When a Man Falls From the Sky”

A second review of “What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky.” The author Lesley Nneka Arimah was the guest author for this semester’s Two Rivers Reading Series on the Coon Rapids campus. 

By Alyssa Jauert, Contributing Writer

One father spins ghastly, impossible stories of war toimpress his daughter, while another reflects on his daughter’s spirit and is left inconsolable at the thought of their ugly world corrupting her. One mother inexplicably steps out of a picture and comes back from the dead for a day, and a different mother weaves her own children out of yarn. A river goddess fights an ant god. All these stories and more are told in “What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky,” written by author Lesley Nneka Arimah.

Each story is different, using a new protagonist and tackling a new set of issues, leaving no room for boredom. The stories are fast-paced, easy to read, and they bring each individual character to life. Yet one thing ties these stories together and makes them the cohesive short story collection we’re left with. This book is about love and about womanhood,but at its core, these stories are about relationship

“War Stories” is a story that exemplifies the grittier side of life, as the main character experiences playground drama revolving around girls getting their first bras; meanwhile,she’s coming to terms with a family friend’s suicide. Some premises are a bit silly, like “What Is A Volcano?” that starts off with the god of ants getting angry over the fact that no one cares that he’s the god of ants.

These are all stories that tackle real-life issues,metaphorically, at least, but first and foremost they seek to explore relationships. The bond between daughters and their parents is often showcased,and the relationships are far from perfect. They’re messy, sometimes angry, and unreasonable. But it’s these imperfections that bring these characters to life.

Arimah also utilizes a clever sense of humor, which often turns dark when the subject of her stories turn to things such as unraveling yarn babies. The audience can bask in the self-deprecating words of the protagonist and the awkwardness between two people when one has her foot firmly planted in her mouth. Though the setting and the characters are foreign to some, readers can recall similar experiences, emotions, and memories. This is what makes “What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky”real in the mind of every reader.

Alyssa Jauert is a student at Anoka-Ramsey and a part-time worshiper of the goddess Panera. She likes to spend her spare time with her bird.