Trudie's Reviews > Freshwater

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
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bookshelves: indiebuddyreads, other-awards, read-harder-2019, womans-prize

I have been procrastinating upon writing this review for a few reasons. The main one being that I can't shake the feeling that not liking this says something about my inability to see things from the authors point of view, thus a failure for me as a reader. It is always a problem for me with books that have one leg based in autobiography and another in some spiritual realm. I am forever needing to know what really happened. Perhaps most detrimental to my appreciation was my general reluctance to engage with matters meta-physical or transcendental. Passages like this drove me crazy :

Perhaps she would call Santa Marta by her other name, Filomena Lubana, and warn her not to send her husband into Ada's dreams. San Elias, El Baron del Cementerio, the Baron. Whoever guards the underworld guards Ala's womb you see; they are the same place. The Baron stepped over an island and into twenty-one rivers to put his name on the Ada's tongue, so she called it out. ( What do you do when Iwa wants you? No-that is a different story-forget the Baron. ) It would be a warning, we decided, Ala to Filomena Lubana, a warning that the child was not hers. Nine Marta bore and nine Marta buried. The Ada has always belonged to the Ala, and Ala is not inclined to share. Take away those brown eggs and honey.

Even while typing this out and thinking about it within the context of the novel, I still think I would fail a reading comprehension test on this passage. Who brought the brown eggs ? Was it the Baron ? Why are there 21 rivers ? I can feel beads of sweat breaking out on my forehead ...

Having said all that, I did enjoy the first section of this novel when young Ada is learning to live with multiple spirits in their body, at that point I came closest to seeing the flashes of brilliance that so many other readers have noted in their reviews of this novel.

So in summary I feel obliged to admire the level of difficulty of what was attempted here but I can't deny my lack of enjoyment for the experience as a whole.
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Reading Progress

April 14, 2019 – Started Reading
April 14, 2019 – Shelved
April 17, 2019 –
page 80
35.4% "This is more traumatic than I had anticipated but very good"
April 18, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ I couldn't get into this one. Not sure why.


Meike Saaaaaaame, Trudie!!


Trudie Yep I read your review Meike and it is really almost exactly how I feel.


message 4: by Lark (new) - added it

Lark Benobi I haven't been able to read this as yet. I begin and then put it down. The mystery of how some authors reach some readers on a visceral level and others never connect at all.


Trudie Lark: I will be very interested in your take if / when you do get to finish this one. It has drawn such praise from readers I trust inherently and yet I just was not on that page


Carmel Hanes This was such an unusual novel that I can fully understand how it wouldn't be for everyone. There were parts that left me scratching my head, too. But there were elements I found truly fascinating. I think you articulated well what would put some people off this one.


Trudie Thank you Carmel. I agree there were some very fascinating elements and I am honestly torn between admiration for those parts and then the need to slog through parts like the one quoted. I am pleased I read this however.


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