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The Seas

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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,795 ratings  ·  566 reviews
Moored in a coastal fishing town so far north that the highways only run south, the unnamed narrator of The Seas is a misfit. She’s often the subject of cruel local gossip. Her father, a sailor, walked into the ocean eleven years earlier and never returned, leaving his wife and daughter to keep a forlorn vigil. Surrounded by water and beckoned by the sea, she clings to wha ...more
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by Tin House Books (first published November 1st 2004)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,795 ratings  ·  566 reviews


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Sarah
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Powells.com
Dec 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 e
...more
Kevin Kelsey
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
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."
Melissa
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has destroyed me. I'm dead. Dead.
Sosi Demirtshyan
4.8*
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
...more
Stephen P
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 f
...more
Tze-Wen
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
Renee Godding
Nov 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: magical-realism
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” su
...more
Drew
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
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 😊
Jane
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 th
...more
Jessica Sullivan
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 narr
...more
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 t
...more
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.
Nick
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Katherine
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A hard one to rate, but quite magical. Samantha Hunt has cemented herself as one of my favorite contemporary authors.
Jay
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
It's a strange, little story. I found the writing to be interesting, the story quirky. It was fun trying to map the story being told with what could actually be happening. I appreciated the brevity, since it paid to think about the story as you went along. A week after reading, I'm still feeling the creepy mood that this book brought on. I don't read much horror, but it felt Gaiman-like, lighter than Lovecraft.
Daniel Dao
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I don’t know what to say other than this book ripped into my core and spilled everything out.
julia
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
afraid this might have just ruined 2020 reading for me
D Dyer
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads, fantasy
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
Courtney Maum
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!
Shubhi Nigam
Very painful & tragic. Full of emotions that are hard to be expressed in words. ...more
Emily Dunbar
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Jude thinks he is too old for me. I think I could cut a strip of flesh from his upper arm and eat it.”

I’ve been trying to read The Seas since early last year — after I read The Pisces by Melissa Broder and desperately wanted to consume anything and everything like it. Broder had said that The Seas was a big inspiration for her own book, and a favorite of hers, and so my quest was born.

The Seas has certainly filled a The Pisces-sized hole in my literary heart. (It also made me wanna reread The P
...more
Mikaela
More like a 3,5 rating (why doesn’t Goodreads have a half star-system?).

This truly is an odd book (in a good sense, mostly). It has a lot of elements that are right up my alley, like a heroine who thinks she’s a mermaid, strange play with words, desolated villages where everyone is miserable, magical realism, the sea, trying to push king Neptune back into the ocean etc. Yet I did not love this book as much as I expected, although I think it is well worth the read. I can’t really put my finger o
...more
Mark
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sydney Stories
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5/5

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Reading it again for the first time was such a special experience. The only way I can describe it is that it's about a sad girl who's dreadfully, deeply in love with a grown man. With themes of depression, suicide, lost fathers and war we follow this young woman fairytale-esque's life as she attempts to become the mermaid her father always promised her she was.

The writing is intense and cuts quick to the bone, to the heart. You don't leave this b
...more
Makenzie
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-favourites
This could be a description that makes some people cringe, but this is like a Florence and the Machine song meets a Lana Del Rey song (I know it came out before either of them were around)... but in a book. It's kind of perfect.
Stacia
Mar 15, 2019 marked it as abandoned
I read over half, & while there were a few lovely quotes & turns of phrase, I was feeling noncommittal toward the story & characters.  ...more
Sami
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 th ...more
Vincent Scarpa
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“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 th ...more
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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, print ...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.” 9 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.” 6 likes
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