Updated: Mar 30, 2020
As Woody Allen once said, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." How true is this statement? I believe that our lives are a mix of pre-determined fate/destiny, our intentions, and the decisions we make, along with the time we make them. For as much as I have planned out my future, only a small percentage has gone according to plan. Having children rocked my world and turned me life on it's axis. What I had imagined in my head, was not how my life turned out, but it is all the more better because of that. Bianca Marais wrote a beautiful novel about three South African women, the lives they each chose to live, and how when everything is stripped away, they all have the same core. The story is beautiful, the characters feel real, and the layers of meaning hit me to my core.
If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais follows three women, Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah. They each lead very different lives; Zodwa lives in object poverty with her mother and is pregnant at the age of 18, Ruth is a former South African starlet, her husband just left her and she is spiraling with a glass of wine in each hand, and Delilah just left her post at a children's orphanage and is trying to find what to do next. Each woman could not be more different, yet when you peel back their layers, they each want the same thing, to feel love and a sense of purpose. They were connected by motherhood, but each in their own unique way. Being a mother myself, I loved this concept. It rings true that no matter who you are, what part of the globe you are from, what religion you practice, what your culture deems appropriate, all mothers want the same thing for their child, love and peace.
This book made me feel every emotion under the sun. Marais made each character come alive on the page and I connected with each one in a different way. The chapters alternate between each character and are short enough that it does not get confusing. Their stories start to intertwine and by over mid-way through, their storylines are combined and the reader can see the same situation from each of their perspectives. Ruth and Delilah's chapters are told in first person, while Zodwa's is told in third person. This aspect was interesting to me and though it was inconsistent, it worked. My heart hurt for Zodwa, I empathized with Ruth, and my soul connected with Delilah.
These characters will stay with me forever and If You Want to Make God Laugh became one of my favorite books of all time. A solid ★★★★★ novel that I cannot recommend enough. You will feel all the feels with this one.