Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika
Publisher: Cassava Republic
Release Date: 2016
Setting: San Francisco, USA
My Rating: 4 Stars ****
Morayo da Silva, a cosmopolitan Nigerian- American woman, lives in hip San Francisco. On the cusp of her seventy-five, she is in good health and makes the most of it, enjoying road trips in her vintage porsche, chatting to strangers, and recollecting characters from her favourite novels. The she has a fall and her independence crumbles. Without the support of family, she relies on friend and chance encounters. (Source: Book Blurb)
When I started this book, I was looking forward to and excited for an intricate plot. My ‘wisdom’ has over the years had me believing that any good book should have a solid plot, which has seen me down grade some book ratings to 2 stars due to in my opinion, missing, inconsistent or non-existent plots. I am however beginning to appreciate that not all books are plot-driven. Some books are there to teach you something, reveal something, divert the course of your thinking, help you unlearn or relearn, address a particular social issue or just give you a good story! And that’s just the thing with this book!
"Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun" is a short novella that you can finish in one sitting. The book revolves around the life of Morayo Da Silva, A Nigerian-American woman, living in San Francisco. She is on the cusp of her 75th birthday and still so full of life, you’d be forgiven to think she was in her 40s. She always marks her birthdays by doing something exciting and for her 75th, she’s getting a tattoo. She is independent and has a happy spirit and a great attitude. She is not weighed down about what could have or should have been. When she gets in an accident and has to go to an elderly persons’ home, we see her temporarily lose her independence and struggles with having to rely on others . Morayo is an endearing protagonist.
The voices of the people/characters around her are introduced in the story which I absolutely loved. Sunshine – her amazing Indian neighbour and executor of her will, Reggie – the other oldie at the home who comes to visit his wife, Pearl, suffering from Parkinsons disease, The homeless woman who ends up picking up Morayo’s discarded books, Toussaint – the chef at the elderly home who hungers for the motherland. All these different perspectives made the book move faster and provided an all rounded picture of what was going on around Morayo and how those around her viewed her, which surprisingly was exactly as she thought of herself. If you are familiar with the Johari window, you will appreciate how rare this is.
But that aside, this book made me stop and seriously think about ageing and what it means. When you are old and alone – no children and no husband. Who takes care of you then? Do we ever make plans for when we are aged and can no longer make decisions for ourselves? I loved that Morayo seemed to have made peace with not having children and it didn’t feel like it was a loss for her.
When your body ages faster than your mind and you are physically incapacitated from doing things you love – for Morayo, her eyesight was failing her which meant she would have to stop driving her vintage Porsche, her hip and bones were failing her – preventing her from enjoying the dancing she so absolutely loved. She had a healthy sexual appetite even at 75 but would she be able to follow through? All these things had me thinking about how fleeting time is and how I (we) should make the most out it now – pretty soon, our minds will be telling us to ‘dance’ and our bodies will be like ‘think again, grandma bones’!!
This book came highly recommended and I in turn, highly recommend it!