Review: FRESHWATER by Akwaeke Emezi

Janelle Book Reviews, Finished Copy, From Publisher, Grove Atlantic, Grove Press, Literary Fiction Leave a Comment

Thank you so much to Grove Atlantic for providing my free copy – all opinions are my own.

” The world in my head has been far more real than the one outside— maybe that’s the exact definition of madness, come to think of it.

Book Description: 

Ada begins her life in the south of Nigeria as a troubled baby and a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents, Saul and Saachi, successfully prayed her into existence, but as she grows into a volatile and splintered child, it becomes clear that something went terribly awry. When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. A traumatic assault leads to a crystallization of her alternate selves: Asụghara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves―now protective, now hedonistic―move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.

“Think of brief insanities that are in you, not just the ones that blossomed as you grew into taller, more sinful versions of yourself, but the ones you were born with, tucked behind your liver. Take us, for instance.”

My Review: 

Ada is a young Nigerian woman who is believed to be ogbanje, which literally translates into “children who come and go”, and is a term in Igbo which describes a spirit that has died and been reborn to cause misfortune to a family. Ada believes these spirits have inhabited her and been reincarnated to cause her years of anguish and physical pain. She survived a difficult childhood and horrific assault and now has fractured “selves”, Asughara and Saint Vincent, who are licentious but also protective of her. This is a very dark and chilling story as the narrator isn’t Ada; it is a collective “we”, the fractured selves that tell her story.

Throughout my reading experience, I couldn’t decide if these were indeed spirits or something caused by mental illness. I mean, how does one truly know when all you can see is through the perspectives of these voices within Ada?

Freshwater is a stunning debut and original masterpiece that I cannot stop thinking about. This book is just over two-hundred pages, but is so powerful that it will be forever seared into my mind. Every single page had me engrossed in the story. I am one-hundred-percent certain that there is no other book like this. Every exquisite word and every lyrical sentence made me spellbound. I had no idea that when I was drawn to this gorgeous cover months ago that I would get such an amazing piece of literature.

“Let me tell you now, I loved her because in the moment of her devastation, the moment she lost her mind, that girl reached for me so hard that she went completely mad, and I loved her because when I flooded through, she spread herself open and took me in without hesitation, bawling and broken, she absorbed me fiercely, all the way; she denied me nothing. I loved her because she gave me a name.”

My rating is 5 / 5 stars! Outstanding novel!

Click here to purchase on Amazon. 

Leave a Reply