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Appearances or Not by Audrey N. Chirenje

"I knew I was out of my class from day one nope scratch that somewhere along the way when I discovered she owned MargoTech. However, my heart had fallen all the way deep into the ocean." (page 110)

Does status matter when love is at the centre? This is the question that Appearances or Not by Audrey N. Chirenje explores. I met Chirenje at the inaugural Open Book Festival in October 2022, where we were both panelists and had a chance to chit-chat after the event. After sharing an engaging conversation, she offered me a copy of Appearances or Not, and I gladly accepted it. You know I love a new book! Chirenje writes romance stories to entertain, inspire and motivate. This is the third of the seven books that she's written (her publications include children's books). At the centre of this romantic tale is Margot Biriri and Farai Banda who seem to be two worlds apart. What binds Farai and Margot is love but is that enough? Well, this story shows that it's not that simple.

Chirenje explores the nature of romantic relationships in the face of a great barrier; class. The story gives us Margort and Farai's perspectives of their relationship and the surrounding circumstances. The chapters are structured in alternating the first point of view of both characters. This gives the reader a well rounded narrative, although on some parts it seemed like Margot's voice was in Farai's head when he was narrating his perspective. While Magort may come off as snobbish in some parts of the book, it is Farai's character that frustrated me the most. People go for what they want and some are persistent, fine, but Farai's persistence felt like harassment. Further, he is a character that works on a lot of assumptions that are rooted in misogyny like thinking it's 'manly' to control what Margot wears. In my opinion, nothing redeems Farai's character considering that he even manicures his lifestyle to fit into Margot's life, making him disingenuous to a greater extent. At least Margot is clear about who she wants and what she wants, but her little stunt with Alvin had me side eyeing her.

There are parts that I think could have been edited better to make the story flow and I wish there'd been some character development on the two main characters. I like that this is a light story which I was able to read in one sitting. It's also relatable to some and that makes for good reading. I like the plot twist at the end. I am not sure if there is a happy ending considering my opinion of Farai's character. This was my first time reading Chirenje's work and hopefully I get the chance to read some more. If you are looking for a quick and light read, this one is for you!


Book Details

Title: Appearances or Not

Genre: Fiction

Author: Audrey N. Chirenje

Pages: 126

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