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Saltwater

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  457 ratings  ·  88 reviews
This “luminous” (The Observer) feminist coming-of-age novel captures in sensuous, blistering prose the richness and imperfection of the bond between a daughter and her mother

It begins with our bodies . . . Safe together in the violet dark and yet already there are spaces beginning to open between us.

From that first salty, viscous connection, through the ups and downs of a
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published May 16th 2019)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  457 ratings  ·  88 reviews


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Karen
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is the story of Lucy from Sunderland, England told in short fragments instead of chapters, moving from past to present.. I enjoyed this style of writing.
Lucy has just graduated from college and has moved to her late grandfathers cottage in Ireland and trying to figure out her place in the world.
Lucy is the narrator throughout, tells the story of growing up with a close relationship to her mom, having a brother born deaf, an alcoholic father and descriptions of her neighborhood. Goes
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Cheri
”It begins with our bodies. Skin on skin. My body burst from yours. Safe together in the violet dark and yet already there are spaces beginning to open between us.” <.b>

”For now our secrets are only ours. You press me to your chest and I am you and I am not you and we will not always belong to each other but for now it is us and here it is quiet. I rise and fall with your breath in this bed. We are safe in the pink together.”

This is a promising coming-of-age debut novel set partially in
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Emer (A Little Haze)
What a hauntingly beautiful reading experience this book was. It's written in extremely short chapters in a non-chronological manner that could so easily have felt too disjointed but magically it didn't: the prose was simply too engaging, the innermost thoughts of the main character too painfully honest. This book somehow found order in the chaos of life and it made Lucy's story feel like my story even though we are nothing alike. She was just a beautifully complicated character that was trying ...more
Ova - Excuse My Reading
An interesting read this one- but definitely good. The trend for the literary, poetic, vague first person narrative is a thing now the last couple of years and this book is one like that.
It's a story of a childhood, growing up, parents separating, or finding a place to fit in different times and places. I especially enjoyed the London bit, the way she didn't feel like she belonged there but also equally tried to fit into the city and inhabitants.
It does not have a traditional novel structure,
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Rachel
Jan 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
"It begins with our bodies. Skin on skin. My body burst from yours. Safe together in the violet dark and yet already there are spaces beginning to open betweenus. I am wet and glistening like a beetroot pulsing in soil. Fastingand gulping. There are wounds in your belly and welts around your nipples, puffy and purpling."


So begins Saltwater, a generic coming-of-age tale that flits around between the key events in the protagonist Lucy's life, growing up in Sunderland and Donegal before moving to
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Sarah
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
This may be another coming of age novel in a sub-genre that is quite over-saturated but I really enjoyed Saltwater - Jessica Andrews' debut novel is a nuanced and well observed portrayal of growing up as a young woman in the UK 00s/10s. We follow Lucy from her childhood into young adulthood as she moves from her hometown of Sunderland to London and later rural Ireland. The novel focuses on Lucy's internal self, her family (her close relationship with her mother, her alcoholic father and her ...more
Sonja Arlow
3.5 stars

It was a unique look at a young woman finding her stride in the world. I particularly loved the way Lucy expresses her relationship with her mother in raw images, flashes of memory and secret gestures. It’s a nice change to read a book where the mother daughter relationship is not overtly toxic but just complex – like in real life.

The same goes for Lucy’s relationship with herself.

The writing was raw, haunting and poetic (even if at times a little purple). Had I read this instead of
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Roman Clodia
This book comes lauded with acclaim about its freshness, voice and vision - but, you know, it's just that old, old story of a girl struggling to become an adult and to find her place in the world. There can still be mileage in this theme but this book hits all the predictable milestones : wayward bodies, boys, sex, struggling not to be objectified, pigeon-holed by class and accent, the push-pull of mother-daughter relationships, wanting to be separate and individual while wanting to belong.

What
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Amanda
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. This book is haunting and beautifully written. It’s told in really short chapters that are not chronological which could have been jarring and confusing but the author handles it beautifully and it was a very powerful way to tell this story.
Emily
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like Bluets for the Sally Rooney generation. This book gave me the same disoriented feeling of scrolling my Instagram feed for too long: intimate, glimpsed fragments of other worlds papier-mached onto my own/Lucy's idea of self.
Monica
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This was an interesting and unique novel. It alternated between the narrator's present life and her past life. The chapters were extremely short and it was a quick read. It is a story about growing up and trying to fit into your life even when things are not easy. Lucy lives in a small town in northern England. She is poor, has a father who is an alcoholic and a brother with special needs. Lucy is bright and pretty but she wants more out of life. The other part of the novel is about her journey ...more
Varsha Ravi (between.bookends)
I avoid people. Itchy at mealtimes. Sup coffee slowly. Guzzle white wine. Watch strangers. Get nervous. There are so many things I do not know the names of. There is pho and plantain and falafel and tagine and food is luxuriant in this place. Meals trickle richly into afternoons like incomprehensible poetry and my tongue is too thick to comprehend the taste. I am not delicate enough to understand nuance. The potato smiley faces of my childhood are beige mush now. Dairy causes acne and gluten is
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Jaclyn Crupi
A novel in non-sequential vignettes. I could tell how accomplished this was without really enjoying it. I actively avoided reading it as I was in the mood for something to really sink in to. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t an excellent book.
Sarah Ames-Foley
Rachel sent me so many screenshots of this while she was reading it and I am positive I would hate this.
Siobhan
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saltwater is a novel that tells the story of a girl who moves from Sunderland to London to an Irish cottage in a fragmented, lyrical style. Lucy grows up with a somewhat dysfunctional family and stories of what other family members did before her. She discovers the joys of gigs and drinking as a teenager in the North East, and when she gets a place at university, nothing seems better than moving to London, the home of indie icons and cool bars. Once in the capital city, however, things are ...more
Julie Parks
This reads like a journal.
It's supposed to be refreshing and all that. But think - how many people (and how many have already written about it) have moved when young, or established themselves in a new city, or experienced sexuality for the first time, or felt out of place...need I go on?

I think I expected something else from this book (but that is/was my personal problem).

This will speak greatly to teenagers struggling with similar issues and is a very recommended reading for that. It's honest
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Amy
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I'll review this when I'm not drowning in deadlines and work
Emilie
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an intimate exploration of a young woman’s life from childhood to her late 20s. With the author’s background in poetry, the writing is moving in the way it articulates feelings I too felt without knowing how to articulate them or even identifying them. I loved the sense of her stripping back the constructed parts of herself that she had built as a product of her environment and her desire to be a different type of person. The pace and authenticity or her life and voice in Ireland ...more
Laura
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lucy grew up in a working-class family in Sunderland, attending a comprehensive school in nearby Washington, so when she heads to university at King's College, London, in the mid-00s, she has to adjust to the new landscape around her, abandoning fake tan, sequins and Asti for cigarettes, leather jackets and leopard-print tights. Later, having received her degree, Lucy will flee to her grandfather's home in Donegal, seeking out the silence of a very different world.

Saltwater, Jessica Andrews's
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wearethecuriousbookclub
I fell in love with the cover, twilight in the city, full of energy and promise. And I was not dissapointed as there were a myriad of beautifully written situations showcasing it as a character in its own right.

Within the short chapters of intensely raw and emotive prose, I soon lost track of the number of phrases I wanted to highlight. I shared numerous quotes with friends, as it's beautiful, astute, raw and relatable, and I devoured it in two days!

The novel follows Lucy, who grew up in
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Laura
This book's protagonist, Lucy, was born in Sunderland, moves to London and ends up in Ireland. I was drawn to it because I too was born in Sunderland and later moved to London (I haven't moved to Ireland yet, but hey, there's still time). It's unusual to see my birthplace or my hometown (Washington, where Lucy goes to school) appear in literary fiction, so this was a refreshing change.

Basically Saltwater is a millennial coming-of-age story, in which the main character Lucy tries to work out who
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Úna
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting novel. It’s intimate and a lot of it moved me deeply, especially the earlier sections about Lucy’s childhood and her family’s past.

The short, fragmented chapters Andrews uses ended up being more effective than I expected, and though they were confusing at the beginning, I really got into them. I also felt a strong sense of the places she wrote about - the north of England, Donegal and London, all of them depicted so beautifully and in a way that took me with Lucy to each
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Sarah
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got on much better than I expected with the short bursts of prose, which jump from the narrator's childhood, recent past and current situation. It was abrupt and to the point, and kept my interest.

I enjoyed the description of her teenage years, the heady mix of bravado, embarrassment and confusion made my toes curl in recognition. Moving beyond the more usual 'Coming of Age' tale the final third reflects on the father's alcoholism and the impact this has on everyone around him. This section
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Susie Anderson
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
at times I felt like everybody should read this, and I was very inspired. then I wondered if it was over the top and the prosody was kind of formulaic. but does that matter if it worked? I couldn't put it down and I was very inspired. I want to leave it all behind.
Julie
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’m sure this is an excellent book , it’s just not for me. I’ve tried over the last few days , but the writing style just puts me off every time .. it’s like clipped paragraphs that don’t seem to run together ..
SueLucie
Apr 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A rather moving story of a young girl from a working class family in the north east achieving a place at university and, despite the financial cost, taking up a place in London. She had spent her teenage years dreaming and aspiring to live the cool city life but finds she has arrived just that bit too late and the scene is on the wane. London is hard, the other students more affluent, and she finds it hard to fit in. The ‘millennial’ experience of London interested me and I thought this aspect ...more
Kathryn
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dene Godsman
Jan 13, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Did anything happen in this book?
Steph Pomfrett
Oct 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I couldn't finish this. It was too fragmented and felt too self-conscious for my taste. I managed 155 pages before giving up.
Kirsten
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very moving and accomplished coming of age novel, written in vignettes and without any sense of chronology.
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“I would like to have something to believe in, but it is difficult. Everything my generation was promised got blown away like clouds of smoke curling from the ends of cigarettes in the mouths of politicians and bankers. It is hard not to be cynical and critical of everything, and yet perhaps there is an opening, too. When the present begins to fracture, there is room for the future to be written.” 0 likes
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