Healing Through the Pages: Exploring Trauma and Grief in Not Here to Stay by N.F Afrina.

ByAstrid S.

“This book feels like a… punch in your face.”

At first, that was my thought too. I am always a fan of grief types of books, but this was different. Not Here to Stay has all sorts of emotions packed in one whole book. I first saw this book on Tiktok and the first thing that caught my attention was the phrase, “are you here to stay or burn this place to the ground?” and the second thing was, the author is a local author. So, after a few months of contemplating whether I should buy this book, I finally bought the signed version and yes, I regret nothing. Except that the book did punch me in the face. 

A Unique Blend of Local and Fantasy Realms

Another factor that got me hooked by this book is the genre. How many local authors mixed both local roots and fantasy realms in their books? As mentioned above, the author is a local author and eventhough the book genre is fantasy, it still portrays Malaysians especially on how the holier than thou people think that others who sinned does not deserve to repent. It takes place in between Malaysia and a mythical world called Lagenda. Lagenda is some kind of safe place created by the main character, Sarah Amani with the help of her past lover, Malik which eventually becomes an abandoned place. Lagenda consists of a castle in the clouds, sky oceans and wisteria trees. Malik manipulated Sarah into thinking that they both build Lagenda when the truth is, he will not be able to create one without the help of Sarah Amani.

The Weight of Past Decisions

The first page of the book wrote “for the ones who would rather hate themselves than forgive their past self.” – Now tell me, how many of us made decisions that we wish we never did and how many can live with the consequences of the decisions made? Because I still got haunted by the decisions, I made 6 years ago.

A Glimpse into the Reality of Emotional Abuse

This book is about mental abuse and how draining it was to be in a relationship. About having to walk on eggshells every time you are with your spouse or partner. Must carefully watch what you are going to say because you are too afraid, they might get angry at you. Psychological and emotional abuse mostly go unrecognized because the person experiencing it is left without visible bruises. There are many mentally abused people who have never been harmed physically, which leaves them to question themselves rather than identifying the abusive pattern in their relationship. Sure, if it’s physical abuse, it is easier to go straight to the authorities because you have visible evidence on your body as proof that you were indeed abused. What about those who are stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship? How do you go to seek help and convince other people to help you get out of the relationship?

A Triggering Yet Healing Read

It is safe to say that this book was traumatizing to me as it talks about the things I wish I knew earlier. About how to accept that sometimes closure is not important. Sometimes it is better to leave things as they are, instead of demanding explanations from people, especially from abusive partners.

This book talks about the aftermath of loving ones too much to the point of losing yourself. Being the givers in a relationship when eventually, you are left with nothing else to give but the taker keeps demanding more.

What to expect when reading this book, especially if you are someone with a traumatizing past, I would say it would be triggering. I was triggered by the book for the first few chapters because it hits too close to home. However, if you are in a traumatic relationship and used to be in one, I think you would like to read this book because of all the familiar emotions.


You can say that I am a bit biased since this kind of book is my cup of tea, but if you are one of us, you might find this book helpful. I wasn’t even aware of all the emotions, especially anger, I am having before I read this book. I am not the type who cries while reading books, but this one managed to leave me in tears. So yes, give it a try, who knows it might help you like it does to me. I would also like to warn the ones who are easily triggered by abusive relationship or childhood trauma if you decide to read Not Here To Stay because I wish someone did warn me before I decided to read the book because some parts did triggered me but the ending was perfectly written to me and like one of the readers wrote in her reviews, this book is the kind of book that I wished, I can read again for the first time because despite all the emotional rollercoaster, it does feels like a punch in the face – a wakeup call that sometimes, a closure isn’t always necessary since at the end of the day, all you need to do is accept that it is what it is and all you need to do is move on.

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