by Morowa Yejidé
I’ve been really good lately at picking novels to read without knowing anything about them first. The only thing I knew about Time of The Locust was that the story surrounded an autistic boy, Sephiri, and his internal life. I wasn’t prepared for any of the rest of the characters and their respective journeys or the magic realism that runs throughout.
The water world that Sephiri has created in his mind is the only thing that makes sense to him and the sea creatures that inhabit it help him to understand “the land of the air” where his mother, Brenda, and the rest of us live. Increasingly, he begins to be pulled in deeper and deeper into the water world and when he comes back he starts to sketch elaborate pictures of this place in his mind. With Sephiri’s father, Horus, serving a life sentence, Brenda is tasked with trying to raise and reach her son on her own with little or no help save an occasional appearance by her brother-in-law. But she never gives up on the hope of one day having Sephiri one day really “seeing” her and becoming reachable.
While reading this, I was really affected by how severely alone and imprisoned each of the characters were due to very different circumstances: autism, imprisonment, health issues, guilt, emotional pain. Yejidé’s beautiful and poignant writing make all of the pain that these people are in seem real enough to touch. But the magic she includes, especially in the second and third parts of the book, offer much hope in the form of love and family bonds. Time of the Locust is definitely one of the most meaningful books I’ve read in a long time.