Jenny (Reading Envy)'s Reviews > Freshwater

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
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really liked it
bookshelves: read2018, hoopla, audiobook

I was pulled in to this story (narrated by the author) of Ada, who is a gift from the (plural) Igbo serpent god to her parents for praying the right way. But because they were the child, the god(s) own her, and are always with her. There is a disturbing description of it at the beginning where they go inside the lining of her uterus, among other places. During a traumatic event, they take hold of Ada's body and then have the ability to completely take over when they want or need to. If she has sex with anyone, it is never her, always them.

Halfway through listening to this novel, I encountered this article, which explained to me how this novel is more autobiographical than I would have imagined. The author discusses being ogbanje and also genderqueer, how the one informs the other, how they have modified their body to fit more how they feel. And Ada goes through this as well, except it feels like greater discomfort from the spirits than from Ada. When she hits puberty, they are uncomfortable at how they can't fully identify or control the humanity that comes into being. Ada also pursues surgical answers, and struggles with suicide along the way.

It is worth the read, worth the experience, the writing is beautiful while also being disturbing. The gods in Ada interact with other gods, like "Yeshua" and "Allah," and "Yeshua" is often hanging around waiting for Ada to come back to him. He even reaches out to the serpent gods in friendship. The mother is an important character who is actually shut out from Ada's life at one point, by the gods.

Typically these gods are considered spirits, but of course... they might not see themselves that way. I enjoyed how the author wrote from their perspective, and it is a bit trippy.
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Reading Progress

March 13, 2018 – Started Reading
March 13, 2018 – Shelved
March 14, 2018 –
50.0%
March 14, 2018 –
90.0%
March 15, 2018 –
99.0%
March 15, 2018 – Shelved as: read2018
March 15, 2018 – Shelved as: hoopla
March 15, 2018 – Shelved as: audiobook
March 15, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Elyse Walters Beautiful review


message 2: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Excellent review, Jenny. I just downloaded the audiobook after hemming and hawing ever since it came out over whether it would be too disturbing. I appreciate the care you have taken to describe it. Thanks!


Jenny (Reading Envy) Jan wrote: "Excellent review, Jenny. I just downloaded the audiobook after hemming and hawing ever since it came out over whether it would be too disturbing. I appreciate the care you have taken to describe it..."

Thanks Jan. I'll look forward to your thoughts!


Meghan Thanks for the link to the article - I just listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author, which was phenomenal.


Jenny (Reading Envy) Meghan wrote: "Thanks for the link to the article - I just listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author, which was phenomenal."

Sure! So good!


message 6: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Excellent review! I also found the connection between the ogbanje and genderqueerness interesting, though I wish it'd been explored a bit more in the novel itself. Definitely interested in checking out the author's future books.


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