Freshwater

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

This book is beautiful and dark. Freshwater tells the spiritual journey of Ada, who was born with Gods inside her body. Ada’s story is told from the unique perspective of the more vindictive God who becomes dominant following a traumatic experience. This is evident by the way the book is structured. Ada’s chapters are short, less than one page long, of which there are very few. We witness many heartbreaking experiences while being distanced from them by the God’s harsh and at times apathetic perspective.

I have not read anything like this before and will be thinking on it for some time. You could say it got under my skin. I could easily re-read Freshwater again to bask in the beautiful...

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Premise: "Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born "with one foot on the other side.""

I don’t understand the love for this book. Yes, it’s highly original and it was well written but it just wasn’t for me.

Some of the language was beautifully descriptive:
“...she drank a lot of tequila, pouring the golden burn of it down her throat till it held her from the inside out...”

“...the snow fell thickly like it was being shoveled out of the sky.”

And more. But.

Ada is or was a python— this book often was confusing. Ada has...

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This is one of those books that is beautiful on so many levels that it is almost overpowering. The language is spare, yet lovely and so descriptive I felt the individual madness of each separate character. The story is stunning, heartbreaking, and ultimately one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

This book is a story of human mental illness told through a mythological view. Many Igbo stories and beliefs are similar to Pueblo beliefs, so much of the allegory resonated with me. Ada is a young woman who is struggling with the selves who have emerged from a splintered connection to her creator. Surrounded by people who understand very little of what she is going through, it becomes...

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3.5 stars

Trigger warnings: HEAVY for suicide and self-injury, as well as drug use, domestic violence, and sexual abuse of children.

This is going to be a short review because it’s hard to say much about this book. This was a well-written and fascinating look into severe mental illness, narrated by the varying personalities existing within Ada as well as Ada herself.

The first third or so of the book is difficult to get into, as it is narrated by “We”, the ogbanje who inhabit Ada’s body. They refer to her as “the Ada” and see themselves as separate entities who only make use of her body as their home for the time being. Following a sexual assault in college, Ada births the personalities...

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I am a sucker for Nigerian folklore, so Freshwater got my attention from the very first line. It's the story of (the) Ada, a Nigerian woman who has, among other things, multiple personality disorder. Her different personalities (who happen to be gods) emerge at different points in her life, following different traumatic events.
First of all, this story deals with complex and difficult themes: self harm, fractured families, physical abuse, rape, suicide, gender identity, mental health, guilt... The list seems almost endless. I loved how complex and messy it was. The author does not shy away from the dark. Oh, and I liked that it was different. I have never read something like it...

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This was absolutely stunning. From the very first page I knew I was in for something extraordinary and unlike anything I have ever read. This debut combines many things I adore in books: unconventional framing and unreliable narrators, a story that gets recontextualized constantly and kept me on my toes, a basis in mythology that informed but did not over-shadow the actual story, perfect sentence structure that packs an unbelievable punch, and so many more things that I am still struggling to adequately talk about.

This is Ada's story, or more accurately Ada's and her other personalities' story. The first part is told in a we-perspective from her alternate personalities...

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The description of this book does not do it justice. The protagonist, Ada, is inhabited by gods who have been trapped in her with the door to their god-world still partially opened, so that they are aware of what they have lost and where they are. The story is told alternately by Ada and several of the gods living within her. While supernatural, it is also a moving portrait of a young woman’s experience of various forms of abuse, depression, and (maybe?) madness. It is a universal tale, told through an African lens, in exquisite language. I would highly recommend it!
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A surprising novel to finish the year. I was confused for several chapters, but let my brain settle into the magic realism, or mysticism, or whatever you want to call it, and enjoyed the story from there. It's tough to read at times, never completely clear... but also really beautiful and touching. I'm so glad I found this little treasure.
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Whew. This book is refreshingly, compellingly different. A part of me thinks I should probably wait a day or two before writing the review to let all that I've read completely marinate and digest. However, I am compelled to get it all out while the impression it has left is strong and penetrating. The Dedication of the book says "To those of us with one foot on the other side." From that moment you know this book will be unlike anything you've ever read and it did not disappoint. Emezi illustrated with perfection just how delicate our grasp on reality can be and how experiences we have repressed can shape who become and the choices we make. If you've ever struggled...

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When I got the depths of this novel, here during these dark hours, I was blown away! My eyes were misty at the end.
It’s absolutely the most brilliant creative book written of its kind ....
It became personal to me....looking back at my own journey- my own struggles - my own fight - my own growth - my own inner peace.

At one point I kept thinking,
“No wonder it’s soooo hard for people to get well”.
“No wonder people repeat the same repetitive unwanted behaviors for years”.

I don’t usually write reviews on my iPhone from bed -
I’m usually not ‘this’ vague about the story either. But honestly it’s best to TAKE THIS BOOK IN....read each word - digest it!
Its possible to read this...

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I couldn't get into this book. Probably my end-of-the-semester brain, not the writing. 

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I don’t know how to rate this. I’m conflicted between 3 and 4 stars. On Akwaeke’s ogbanje Twitter account, she was quoting some alternative blurbs for ‘Freshwater’, from friends who read the book. One quote aptly sums up this debut: “this book is both an escape plan, first aid kit and therapist. also, I came twice”.

If I had known this book was as evil, dark and sinful as it was, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to read it. But ‘Freshwater’ is so much more than its insane level of lust and blasphemy. Its a layered tale on how past traumas deeply affect one’s well-being and mental health. Its also about the spiritual realm and how various spirits can poison the human soul.

Ada- the main...

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This novel is unique, intense and immersive. Incredible characters and story. The prose alone was so beautifully written that I couldn't let myself put it down and when I did I found myself thinking of it. I'm looking forward to sharing this with my family and friends.
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Such an interesting combination of mental health issues and religion/cultural influence. In Freshwater, a young girl becomes fractured and her personalities express themselves as Nigerian gods. As the reader, you almost believe that this supernatural force is affecting her, but that's the beauty of the novel. It makes you realize just how POSSIBLE it is to be overcome by voices and thoughts that are simultaneously yours and not yours. You begin questioning your own perception of reality.

For a book that I never would have picked up on my own, this one was a solid read.
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A unique examination of painful adolescence, Freshwater is bewitching, bewildering and arresting in equal measure.  The novel combines an almost stream-of-consciousness narrative style with the central conceit of the multiple narrators being deities that inhabit the protagonist's mind. The result is an interesting perspective on a fractured sense of self, and it is the experience of this perspective, rather than the actual story or plot, that fuels the book.
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5★ DEBUT!
“Dedication
To those of us
with one foot
on the other side."

“By the time she (our body) struggled out into the world, slick and louder than a village of storms, the gates were left open. We should have been anchored in her by then, asleep inside her membranes and synched with her mind. That would have been the safest way. But since the gates were open, not closed against remembrance, we became confused. We were at once old and newborn. We were her and yet not. We were not conscious but we were alive—in fact, the main problem was that we were a distinct WE instead of being fully and just HER.”

Outstanding, mesmerising, poetically macabre and believably unbelievable...

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Akwaeke Emezi’s debut novel is an intriguing story about the complex psychological life of Ada, a young Nigerian woman. Her multiple personalities are envisaged as figures from Igbo mythology and Christianity, and there is constant conflict and emotional stress as these characters fight to gain control of Ada. A difficult subject dealt with in a fascinating and original way. But this is not an easy book to read on any level.
I found the magical realism off-putting and sometimes confusing and there is a tendency towards unnecessary repetition; but Akwaeke Emezi is a skilled and imaginative writer and I look forward to reading her next novel.
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Very good book! It's not really like anything I've read before. If I had to compare it to something, I'd say the mysticism and somewhat opaque (but descriptive) writing style reminds me of Rushdie. I was confused by the POV at first but quickly got caught up in Ada's life. Looking forward to reading more from this author in the future!
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“The first madness was that were were born, that they stuffed a god into a bag of skin.”

This novel takes us on a journey through Ada’s complex, tragic, yet hopeful life. We watch her constantly battle to keep her head above water, and at the same time watch how the many gods are battling for control of her soul from within. The use of Nigerian mysticism creates a beautiful and realistic portrayal of mental illness and its path of destruction on a person’s life.

The writing is beautiful and poetic through each part in Ada’s life. We are given a different POV from the gods living within Ada, which gives a very unique perspective. The most heartbreaking POV is from Ada as we watch as each...

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I got a free ebook copy from NetGalley but it's times like these I wish I was eligible for receiving dead tree versions because I want to press this book into people's hands and say YOU NEED TO READ THIS RIGHT NOW. You can't do that with an .epub file.

I was especially glad for Freshwater, I think, because right before I read it I had finished Ancient, Ancient, a collection of ostensibly Afro-futurism short stories that had way too much blurb hype on the covers for what it actually was. But Freshwater tapped into that vein of timeless urges (sex, death, blood, deities, demons) that Ancient, Ancient claimed to tackle and delivered a coherent, shining python egg of a novel.
...

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