Things My Mother Left Me || By Pulane Mlilo Mpondo

Year of Publication:2022
Disclaimer:This book was sent to me by Blackbird Books for review purposes.

I prefer to break up my short story reviews into the various stories on offer in order to give a sense of what each story is about. My overall rating of this book is as shown above.

    🤯 first of all!! What level of talent in this? I was in a trance reading Lindelwa and Mlambo’s story. A feminist at heart I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the women come together to exact revenge on the villain burning everything down and claiming a redemption while still on earth. Mlilo’s writing is a whole other fire on its own. You know the kind you curl up to on a cold night and warms you from the outside in? It is the hearth itself and the irony of fire as a theme in her first story is not lost on me. This story is definitely for every black girl who didn’t get what love promised because the world is far from the fairytale that promised us princes, balls and castles. For the black girls who find each other in the midst of heartache, tears and pain, who keep each other even as the fires burn. 5/5
    I enjoyed the use of characters from the previous story in this one and the tie in in themes as well. The loudest between these 2 stories so far being how women can lock arms in soft and hard ways against all injustice waged against them and their children. It’s like women always know where to find each other, and also how to morph into the balm required to face the day. Mlilo brings in some supernatural elements to this story as well, hints of which were also in the first one. She does it with ease, they fit well into the narrative 👌🏾. A theme I enjoyed with this one is sisterhood and how 2 women who are dissimilar in so many ways can unite beyond blood ties to do something meaningful even as they fight their own demons. It’s another one with a 🤯 ending. 3.8/5
    Religion is another strong theme in these stories, especially Christianity and how many fall short of it and how some use it as a drug. Women continue to show up for each other and continue as keepers of secrets as dark as the night. Hotel Baghdad is a continuous setting in the book, it’s the place where most of the women’s lives changed, for better or for worse. A constant character also is Nomawhule who lives in the hotel and has played a prominent part in the way the lives of these women have changed. 3/5
    Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by a man or another woman. The vengeance of a woman is something to be feared. In this 4th story Mlilo takes her time exploring so many aspects of what leads woman to be hard and some to stay soft in situations that should have made them hard. A cult disguised as Christianity is at the centre of this story. This cult has come up in the other stories as well but now its intricacies and inception are laid bare. Here we find what other ways women can show up, as gatekeepers, as enablers of evil and as agents of the devil. Even in the midst of hell we also find that when they unite, women are a force unmatched. We also receive more insight into Nomawhule who is a constant character throughout these stories. 4/5

A mother could never leave. Where would she go? I am your first and only home, and you must remember to always come home.

Things My Mother Left Me – Pulane Mlilo Mpondo
    This is one of the longest stories but it is so worth it. It gives perspective to the ongoing themes in the story and the crisscross of the characters from story to story. It provides the reason for their collision and ties the story well together. In it fire and folklore and the spiritual elements that bind these women bubble to the surface in a different way. Throughout the book Mlilo has been playing with the Eve story, the man, the woman, the snake and from it redressing the woman’s place in history, biblical as well. We come to wonder what the original sin was and who exactly committed it and whether we, the genesis, can ever rid ourselves of it. In each story I’m completely blown away at the craftsmanship and vastness of Mlilo’s imagination and talent. 4.5/5
    The poetry Mlilo uses to reinvent the story of then original sin is both mesmerising and enchanting. She crafts an alternative to what we’ve been taught through Christianity and how combined with colonialism it is an example of how we began to loose and forget ourselves. She begs us to remember, especially women, to recall the absolute magic we are and how entwined with the source we must be due to our ability to birth and raise. This is a love letter to black women and it implores us to reciprocate by searching ourselves. All truth and everything we’ve ever needed to know has always been inside of us. 5/5