Flash Review: Let Me Explain You

From Literary Mama’s Essential Reading, September 2015


Have you ever read one of those books that haunts you when you’re not reading it? I remember, in my younger days, hungrily sneaking chapter after chapter of The Hunger Games trilogy under dinner tables, at bus stops, in line at the post office. . . It’s been a while since a book has hooked me so completely, but Annie Liontas’ debut novel Let Me Explain You was my object of obsession for approximately five straight days. Let me just say—Katniss and Peeta have nothing on this one.
Liontas builds a world between countries where death is predicted by the stamping hooves of goats, where love makes us christen the entire menu for one person, where forgiveness gives way to broken glass on a diner floor, where obligation shadows over what the heart wants. After the first chapter, in which an email from Let Me‘s patriarch, Stavros—Stavros ‘Steve’ Mavrakis to the women in his life—explains his completely plausible and inevitable death in exactly ten days, I could not stop reading. Greek words dot the dialogue, and even the omniscient narration (depending on which character is taking us through the chapter) is littered with charming broken English and curious cultural idioms.
Like a piece of sweet, custardy galaktoboureko, I kept sneaking bites everywhere I could. Before bed, before work, during dinner, even at lunchtime. At the end, I felt so satisfied and a little bit heartbroken that it was over. I warn you—don’t even start reading if you’re having a crazy day, week, month. Be ready to begin and to know immediately that not only do you have to finish, but that you do not want it to end.

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