Thank you to Grove Atlantic and Netgalley for an early review copy of Freshwater by Awkaeke Emezi, which will publish February 13, 2018. All thoughts are my own.
From the publisher:
Ada has always been unusual. As an infant in Southern Nigeria, she is a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents successfully prayed her into existence, but something must have gone terribly awry, as the young Ada becomes a troubled child, prone to violent fits of anger and grief. But Ada turns out to be more than just volatile. Born “with one foot on the other side,” she begins to develop separate selves. When Ada travels to America for college, a traumatic event crystallizes the selves into something more powerful. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these alters- now protective, now hedonistic- move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dangerous direction.
Akwaeke Emezi’s debut Freshwater is one of the most talked-about books of the year so far, and with good reason. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before- unique and refreshing, powerful and profound, with vivid imagery and so so so many good lines. (I can’t even begin to count how many gorgeous quotes I underlined!) Emezi is an immensely talented writer; she certainly knows how to style a story and keep its audience captivated.
Freshwater has a distinct narration style, told from both the individual and the collective “we.” Each narrator is somewhat unreliable, yet Emezi still makes you feel for them and understand their motives. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit confused by the narration at various points throughout the novel, so if you’re thinking about reading Freshwater, I’d recommend checking out this Twitter thread first, wherein Emezi explains the basic concepts of Nigerian mythology and the ogbanje.
Overall, I found Freshwater to be an eye-opening and thought-provoking tale. I can’t even begin to explain what this book made me feel. It’s so original, so authentic, so deserving to be read. Do you ever read a book that just sort of quietly resonates with you, that blows your mind and makes you sick at the same time? I think any review I attempt to write just won’t do this book enough justice, so I’ll keep it short and sweet.
If you choose any book to read this month, make it Freshwater. It’ll blow you away.