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What the Waves Know

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  461 ratings  ·  83 reviews
In the graceful narrative tradition of Sue Monk Kidd and Beth Hoffman comes an exquisite debut novel about a young woman's quest to reclaim herself—and the voice she left behind — on the gritty New England island where she lost both.

Nineteen miles off the rocky Rhode Island coast lies the tiny isle of Tillings and the memory of Izabella Rae Haywood's sixth birthday– when h
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2016)
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  461 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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Angela M
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's something that draws me to child narrators. Maybe it's the wisdom that comes from their precocious view of life or maybe the truths that often come from their naïveté, truths that adults just wouldn't speak of or even know. This year I have met and fallen in love with Boo of Boo, Elsa of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, Caitlin from Aquarium , to name a few and of course there's Reuben from an all time favorite, Peace Like a River which I read several years ago . Izabella ...more
Departing is when all the tiny pieces that make you whole spring away from you like a big fat touch-me-not and get lost in the grass beyond any hope of coming back together. It is the very moment when all your stories tumble from you, and you are reduced again to the weakest for of “to be” in the universe, leaving nothing to do but begin again.” p. 18

I worry that there is a school of writing that says that having a child protagonist makes the story easier to tell and helps the readers be symp
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an advanced review copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, this was a great book. Izabella Haywood loses her father at their family's home on Tillings Island, and eight years later, she still cannot speak. Her mom finally accepts that the only way for Izabella to move forward is to go back. Back to the island. They move back into the family home in mid-summer with hopes for a full recovery.

As time goes by, Izabella makes friends with the neighbors and townspeople eve
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
I received a copy of this book from the publisher William Morrow Paperbacks in exchange for an honest review. It was just released yesterday.

This is a story for those who like to see a coming of age/overcoming a trauma. It follows Izabella as she struggles with her past and her fathers disappearance. It highlights her guilt.

While not a fast moving story, it was touching with all of the characters coming together. All unique and a little odd in their own way, it showed Izabella that she was not
Laurie Kym
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The writing here is absolutely gorgeous, almost poetic. I was fortunate enough to read an advance galley of this with my book club and now cannot wait for another release from this author --- and this one isn't even on shelves, yet. Fabulous characters, setting, and story. The novel pivots around growing up loving a Schizophrenic parent and trying to unravel truth from fiction while finding your own voice. It is one of those books that you will remember for many, many years. Truly lovely.
Mrs Mommy Booknerd
Told through the eyes and the voice of a child WHAT THE WAVES KNOW is a brilliant, touching and heartbreaking story that is not only original, but also captivating. It was beautifully written, thought provoking and a read that will stick with me for a long time. This is one of those books that would be perfect for book clubs because there is so much to discuss and so many emotions to process.
It really is a MUST READ. 5 stars
Mary J
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really like this book. A young girl, Iz, struggles to remember and make sense of the night her father (who is mentally ill) disappeared and come to terms with the fact that it was her words that sent him into the night. She hasn't spoken since, and her relationship with her mother is strained. Together, they go back to the home on Tillings Island where it all happened to try to stitch together a path forward. Heart-breaking and healing.
Kathleen Gray
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks Edelweiss for the opportunity to read this character driven novel, of family heartbreak and restoration. This is a very well written book. It strikes a neat balance between tragedy and redemption without straying into cliche. Recommend- and look forward to more from Valentine.
Izabella Rae Haywood adores her father who she says is "one-eighth Narragansett Indian and seven-eights mystery". He takes her to Tillings Island, where he has roots. They fish together and share a deep bond. But her parents argue more and more. On her sixth birthday after the fighting mounts her childish frustration she screams at him "I hate you! I wish you would just go away!" Believing she has somehow invoked her birthday wish, she blames herself when he does leave. She can no longer speak.

Sara Strand
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
The timing of me reading this book was kind of strange because the book deals with loss and coping with it, mental illness, the effects of a mental illness on the greater family, but especially children. Normally books which are narrated by a child because it could really go either way, but this one was done wonderfully. The bottom story line comes down to a girl having to deal with the realities of her father, the reason for him leaving, Once he leaves, she stops speaking (literally) and her mo ...more
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
this book had 2 flaws.... 1. there is a paragraph that ends without punctuation (but i dont use caps or apostrophes, so who am i to judge) and 2. it ended. that is it... those are the only two flaws i found in this amazing story about a girl who finds security in her insignificance and insecurity in her significance.

this story brought out a realization in me that we all have that "inner voice" and most often, this voice is our most honest voice. it is this private voice that is the hardest to l
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, for-review
What the Waves Know is a beautifully written coming of age story that deals with how our memories shape our lives. I ended up devouring this book! I read it in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. Izabella is fourteen when her mother brings her back to Tillings Island to try to help her find her voice. When she was six, her father disappeared from her life and took her voice with him. She has no memory of what happened the night she told him to go away. But, as she spends time on the isla ...more
What the Waves Know by Tamara Valentine is a William Morrow publication.

I found myself totally engrossed in this story, as the suspense builds, and the moment of truth becomes more imminent. Family, culture, mythology, friendship, caring, and love all roll up together as one, to bring healing, hope, and at long last, peace.
I loved this original spin on the coming of age novel, the setting, and era, Iz’s voice, the way the author weaves the larger issues into the tale without hitting us over th
Nancy Baker
Jul 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Izabelle is a young girl who has not spoken a word since the day her father disappeared from her life. Her Mom is hanging on by a thin thread and her grandmother is hanging on to real life by a thin thread as she continues to live a carefree life which includes dancing around her house in the nude. (Sounds strange, but her character is sometimes more grounded than meets the eye - she is just enjoying life.) All three females return to the island from where something "happened" and you don't unco ...more
Alexandra Kathleen
This book is awesome... definitely a must read. The characters are quirky and unique, the voice is insanely well done, and the writing is amazing. Love, love, love!
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought I was getting something lighter than the heavy-duty books on trauma I was reading, but wow, this book was pretty profound as well! Beautifully written; poignant and poetic; this novel (which I believe is a debut novel by Ms Valentine) is well worth the time. Lovely history of Yemaya, a sea "witch," woven throughout. I'd say it's YA, but it's one of those that appeals to an older and wiser audience as well. The author is a gifted storyteller. I loved it!
4.5 stars overall.

Review Excerpts:
What a beautiful book, with a fourteen-year-old narrator that you can't help wanting to hug. Izabella (Iz to her mom) is wounded from the night of her sixth birthday, when her father went away. Iz thinks her strong and angry words were what made him go so she hasn't spoken since. Her mother Zorrie, among the walking wounded herself, can't seem to reach her and brings Iz back to Tillings Island in Rhode Island in hopes of reaching her; getting her to remember wha
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There’s a line near the end of this novel, She will gather her children back together beside the sea, that has been pinging at my brain since I finished reading this in the wee hours of Sunday morning. I don’t have children of my own, but I understand that sentiment as if it was bred into me – the bond between mothers and daughters, and the bond some of us have with the sea = they go hand in hand.

Tamara Valentine clearly has an intrinsic understanding of both those concepts, as well, because her
I don't know that I completely agree with the jacket copy that says Tamara Valentine's debut novel is "In the tradition of Sue Monk Kidd and Beth Hoffman." However, Valentine has given us a teen character with her own unique voice in What the Waves Know. In fact, Izabella Rae Haywood is unique because she is a narrator without a voice.

Izabella had a voice until her sixth birthday. That was the day her beloved father disappeared from her life, and she hasn't spoken a word since. Until that time,
Bethany Kelly
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever encountered a book that changed your world view? Have you ever read something that made you think of things in a whole new light? One that you got so engrossed in, you forgot to do anything else but keep reading so you could see how it ended? What the Waves Know by Tamara Valentine was that type of book for me. I was literally through 90% of this book in one day. I only stopped reading when I needed to eat, take care of my kiddos, and when my husband said it was time for us to go t ...more
J Ernesto
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My wife and I just finished this one with our book group. She says it is a mother/daughter story. I think it is a father/daughter story. Either way, it was a really great story. Would work well for a high school lit. piece to spark discussions around family dynamics and mental health issues or the idea of stories building truths. It reminds me a little of The Glass Castle.
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Loved it!!
Brent Soderstrum
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-read
I won this book through GoodReads First Read program.

This is Valentine's first book but you can tell she is a gifted writer. The characters in this book are well developed including the minor players in the story. My favorite character in the book is Remy. I liked how she was feisty but had a good heart. Other characters that were enjoyable were Grandma Jo and the owner of the grocery store. I am sure there will be more books coming from Valentine.

This story is about a 14 year old girl who hasn'
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A 14 year old narrator that hasn't spoken since she was six. On her sixth birthday her parents fought, she told her dad she hated him an asked him why he didn't just leave. He left. She ran after the car, but couldn't catch him. Some might call this a coming of age, but it is so much more than that. Obviously the little girl is hurting, but she has also blocked her memory of events after her father left. Her mother is hurting as well, both for her husband leaving and her daughter not talking. Th ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked this up because it was a "book of the month" at our local library. It seems a typical east coast novel just like so many others in that genre. The setting and characters seem stereotypical and the story contrived. At the same time, it's a readable book. There are images I appreciate. It did help me think about how we all have stories we may struggle to tell and about the reality that other people's choices impact our lives. It's an okay read.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting story about a young girl who loses her voice the day her father disappears. After trying numerous things, her mothers decides to take her daughter back to the island where everything happened. Through triggered memories, the girl begins to remember what happened the day her world changed.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautifully written. I love the way the girl narrator lives inside of the words that won't come out of her. I love the evolution of each character, the mom who is living in the wake of trauma herself, the hippy grandma doing her grandma-best to help, the mean girl who has her own back-story. Loved it.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
An easy to read story about a young girl dealing with the disappearance of her father. As often happens with books with young protagonists, the maturity of her thinking is far beyond her years; but that is necessary in order to relay the story I guess?

Anyhow, pleasant enough read.
Susan Donaghue
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book
Won this booknina Goodreads First Reads contest.

It just was not my cup of tea so will be passingnitmon to another reader.
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TAMARA VALENTINE was born in rural upstate New York where she spent much of her time deep in the northern wood astride a horse in search of hidden worlds; in college, she found them instead in the bitten up wood of a pencil and an old journal. With a deep awe of the power of stories, their transformative and healing nature, she obtained a B.A. in English with a concentration in Communications in 1 ...more
“You could get the words all straight and neat between the lines, but the meaning was in the way they zigzagged toward a person when you gave them life.” 0 likes
“I was coming to understand that my mother did not hate me, only that some days, she hated loving me.” 0 likes
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