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The Seas

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,075 ratings  ·  468 reviews
The narrator of The Seas lives in a tiny, remote, alcoholic, cruel seaside town. An occasional chambermaid, granddaughter to a typesetter, and daughter to a dead man, awkward and brave, wayward and willful, she is in love (unrequited) with an Iraq War veteran thirteen years her senior. She is convinced that she is a mermaid. What she does to ease the pain of growing up ...more
Paperback, 193 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by Picador (first published November 1st 2004)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,075 ratings  ·  468 reviews

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Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book comes closer to my own pain than any other book I've read.

I don't know how to talk about it. I feel a little shaken.
Kevin Kelsey
A wonderfully metaphoric short novel dripping with meaning and possible interpretation.

"If one word can mean so many things at the same time then I don't see why I can't."
Dec 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Little Mermaid Grows Up
A review by Alexis Smith

Samantha Hunt has written a layered debut novel, part fairy tale, part bildungsroman, and part meditation on the imprecision of language. It is a story that will sound vaguely familiar: a girl grows up in a small town, with its small town locales (laundromat, shipyard, shabby houses), its small town occupations (primarily drinking), and its small town tragedies (men lost at sea). In this setting, the unnamed narrator longs to escape her dreary
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has destroyed me. I'm dead. Dead.
Stephen P
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
What is it that makes a book work? Fall apart?

The Seas captured a first person narrative voice of a young woman, sensitive and imaginative, whose voice soared. Abandoned in a wintry deaden northern town, her father walked into the sea. Didn’t return. What she knows is what her mother knows, they cannot leave until her father returns. They must wait. She is obsessed with a man fourteen years older than her who remains a companion but does not return the girl-woman’s passion. All others mock her
Sosi Demirtshyan
Let me tell you my story. When I was 9-10 years old, I was not a mermaid, no...I was a wind whisperer. Oh yes, I was. Every morning I was running out from the house to say good morning to the wind, because the wind was waiting for me there, all ready to play. I strongly believed that we had a special connection, that nobody knows and nobody understands. I would tell the wind about my day, my school and piano lessons, which I hated. The only good thing about those piano lessons was that there
Tatevik Najaryan
Wait! What?
I need a paperback of this book. Audio was great, no words, but I know, I really know, it will have a five star rating for a hardcopy!!!
Now it's 4.5.
@Sosi sorry, I couldn't wait and finished it today
Mar 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
A strange one this.

A debut novel longlisted for the Orange Prize two years after its author’s second novel was longlisted for the very same prize. There is no question over the books eligibility as it was first published in the United Kindom in July last year, but it does feel odd.

And the book itself has a certain strangeness.

“One night,” I begin and close my eyes, “my father, he was very handsome, he walked into the ocean. That was eleven years ago. He hasn’t come back though and even though
Renee Godding
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

”If one word can mean so many things at the same time, than I don’t see why I can’t”

Magical realism with a focus on the ocean. A cold coastal town, inhabited by damaged people. A girl who flees from her grief in the belief that she is a mermaid.
This book, thematically, should have been an easy sell for me. The premise sounded right up my alley, the cover is one of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen in a long time and all in all this novel has a level of “strangeness”
Apparently, living out harsh lives in the small town leads to excessive alcohol-consumption and depression, and poor Jude is no exception to the rule. If you're not trying to escape reality by drinking, you have to immerse yourself in other pastimes. The girl's mother, who grew up on an island with mostly deaf people, loves contemplating in silence. The protagonist's grandfather enjoys perusing dictionaries and finding the origin of and connections between words. And in a way, both of them find ...more
Jessica Sullivan
Oct 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
This strange little novel dips into magical realism and allegory to convey the protagonist’s coming of age.

The unnamed narrator is an awkward and isolated teenager convinced that she’s a mermaid. Eleven years ago, her father walked into the sea in their small coastal town and never returned. Presently, she’s in (unrequited) love with a man much older than her who just returned from the Iraq War with PTSD.

The Seas is about the stories we tell to establish a sense of identity and carve out a
Claire Fuller
Strange and beguiling this is a lyrical novel about being two things at once. Full of magical realism, the narrator, who might or might not be a mermaid, is in love with Jude, fourteen years older and suffering from ptsd. The last third surprised me just when I was ready to be surprised, but I'm still thinking about the ending.
This is Hunt's first novel, although her second was published first in the UK.
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, contemporary
I really liked this novel. Short and existential, and constantly questioning its reality. There are not too many "mainstream" novels in which the heroine has to push a beached King Neptune back in to the sea. The perceptual problems of the young protagonist are very alluring. I really believed she was turning into a mermaid. It's the only thing that made everything make sense.
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5+ out of 5.
Magical. One of those books that you want to hold onto every single word of, that sends an electric pulse across your brain when you start reading it. Don't get me wrong: this book is sad, it's bleak, it's even tragic... but it's also hopeful, joyful, even a little silly at times. And god is it full of magic, the best kind of magic.
A hard one to rate, but quite magical. Samantha Hunt has cemented herself as one of my favorite contemporary authors.
Gayla Bassham
So here is what I thought when I finished this book:
1. Samantha Hunt is prodigiously talented and I am very much looking forward to seeing what she does next.
2. This is not actually a very good novel.

There's some really good stuff here and some really choppy, disconnected stuff. I believe this is the first book that Hunt wrote and it shows. There's some good writing here and Hunt shows a lot of promise, but I'm not sure what it's doing on the Orange longlist. I can't believe this is one of the
D Dyer
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2019-reads
This is an astonishing, twisted take on the little mermaid tale with an unnamed and very unreliable narrator. In language that is sometimes sharp and sometimes lyrical Hunt tells the story of a 19-year-old girl in a nowhere seaside town who’s father before disappearing into the sea told her she was a mermaid. And as mermaids frequently do she falls into an obsessive love with a sailor, this one a drunken damaged a rock war vet 13 years her senior. Though set in a particular time this book feels ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
afraid this might have just ruined 2020 reading for me
Daniel Dao
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I don’t know what to say other than this book ripped into my core and spilled everything out.
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it surprised me to find resonance from a book about women longing for their men lost at sea, but the poetry here, and the mermaid mythology sneaking in, all came together into something beautiful. i am not surprised at all that maggie nelson cherished this book.
Shubhi Nigam
Very painful & tragic. Full of emotions that are hard to be expressed in words.
Mar 15, 2019 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I read over half, & while there were a few lovely quotes & turns of phrase, I was feeling noncommittal toward the story & characters. ...more
Courtney Maum
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just stunning. The kind of book you want to start reading again when it is finished, just so it is never finished, but always storytelling in an enchanted loop.

Weird and true and untrue and magic in so many ways. Would make an excellent film-- here's hoping! So glad Tin House is republishing this incredibly original book. Pre-order it, you'll never have read anything like it!
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A strange, haunting book with moments of great beauty. The narrator is unreliable - a bereaved and troubled young woman in love with a damaged Iraq War vet. At times it is a bit heavy-handed with the imagery but there are many rich and artful moments. And yet it seems to me that it doesn't flow as it might. It is uneven. Beautiful nuggets everywhere, but like confetti, or trying to drink fog. A case of water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink. For the first half or more, anyway. The last ...more
Vincent Scarpa
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I look again in the rearview mirror and quite suddenly there is a beautiful blue as though the storm finally broke. It is truly a gorgeous color. This blue is chaotic and changing. I recognize it immediately. ‘Jude,’ I say. ‘Look,’ and I point into the rearview mirror. ‘It’s the ocean sneaking up behind us.’ I watch as the blue rises up like a tidal wave so quickly that I am certain it will catch up with us soon. ‘It doesn’t want us to leave.’ I check the mirror. ‘I don’t think we can outrun ...more
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I saw a quick mention of this book online a day or two ago and it somehow lodge itself in my head. So strongly, in fact that yesterday I stopped at the library to pick it up, and read it today in one sitting. Even now, bookmark no longer needed, cover closed on the last words, it's still haunting me. But then, it's been like that with mermaids lately.

Because it is short and I regretted even reading the dust cover because it disrupted the book's siren song, I will give you only this: young
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who love myth wrapped in everyday soot.
I feel as though I just read a story the likes of which I may not read again for a long time. Of course I hope I'm wrong, but-

Here is a story thick with mystery and empathy for "strange", lost people.

Just read the damn book. If it doesn't take your breath away and knock you on your ass like it did to me, so be it - may you soon find a story (or another one, if you already have!) that does that for you. Cheers.
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-this-year
A fascinating read with a gothic feel to it. A young woman's obsession with her vanished father, a troubled older friend who she wishes were her lover, and her own identity. This one can be read on so many levels.
Julianne (Outlandish Lit)
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely gorgeous book. I don’t know why but I think it has been overlooked. Look again, my friends, look again.
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Samantha Hunt was born in 1971 in Pound Ridge, New York, the youngest of six siblings. She was raised in a house built in 1765 which wasn't haunted in the traditional sense but was so overstuffed with books— good and bad ones— that it had the effect of haunting Hunt all the same. Her mother is a painter and her father was an editor. In 1989 Hunt moved to Vermont where she studied literature, ...more
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“If one word can mean so many things at the same time then I don't see why I can't.” 5 likes
“You don't get to keep the feelings for someone you once loved. Once you've washed your hands of that person, all those feelings, all that dirty water is washed out to sea.” 4 likes
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