Reviews tagging Panic attacks/disorders

Freshwater, by Akwaeke Emezi

32 reviews

miles's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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fionac326's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0


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summerb's review

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challenging dark emotional informative mysterious reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0


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woolgatherer's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Freshwater is a relatively short book, but it was absolutely (and perhaps deliberately) challenging to read. It has its own pulse, breathing in an unsettling and yet entrancing manner that pulls you into liminal spaces rooted in Igbo beliefs.

Emezi challenges the reader and takes them out of their comfort zone. Their book sheds Western beliefs like python skin. Freshwater is brilliantly and cleverly written, deconstructing ideas of “mental illness” and gender/sexuality. It’s a critical examination of the influences of colonialism and the pervasiveness of Western understandings of the world. This is all done through one character, Ada, and the pushes and pulls she faces with the ọgbanje that live inside her. Her multiple selves tell the story in a unique fashion, though I was most taken to the moments we get Ada’s perspective (which doesn’t happen too often).

The thing about the ọgbanje is that they’re there to challenge you, the reader, just as much as they push Ada to a particular extreme that will be disorienting and uncomfortable. Furthermore, it’s traumatic and difficult to get through, as Emezi brings in content including but not limited to self-harm, attempted suicide, and sexual assault. Again, this is a challenging book to read and not meant to be consumed in one sitting.

Which leads me to my next point about Freshwater. I believe those who have tried to diagnose/label Ada and/or treated this book as magic realism read an entirely different book and, in my opinion, missed the point. This book will deconstruct what you know and understand in an unnerving way; it pushes you to come to terms with being utterly disoriented and take the position of rethinking how you look at things. Of course, Emezi isn’t throwing the reader into the deep end and expecting them to figure things out on their own. They write vivid descriptions and, at least to me, a followable storyline (in a way, I guess you could call this a Bildungsroman). I realize it’s a bit paradoxical to say that this book is disorienting and followable, but I think it makes sense once you get into the swing of things while reading this book.

Frankly, I can’t write anything that will do justice to Freshwater. All I can say is to read this book with a very open mind. Try not to get frustrated that you’re going to be shifting between liminal spaces that isn’t magic realism; these are very real spaces of an ọgbanje. And while this book will be challenging, Emezi’s incredible storytelling and lyrical writing will make it a worthwhile read.

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ghostboi's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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miri_png's review

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dark emotional
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0


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miamon's review

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challenging dark emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0


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booksarebrainfood's review

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challenging dark emotional mysterious sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

Very close to a perfect book for me! The narration is unlike anything I’ve ever read - and brought a whole new dimension to the autofiction genre.
I love how they intertwined religion, the ego, trauma and gender to show all the different facets of the self and how they can grow and evolve and be at war with each other. I loved the presentation of people who don’t quite belong to our world who are always called on somewhere, and incorporating that into autofiction was so interesting and unique. Loved it!
The only reason I have 4 stars is that it became quite repetitive towards the end and lost the momentum it was building so well before, but nevertheless it’s unsettling and genius in its own way.

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laurenleigh's review

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challenging dark emotional sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

I was already amazed by Akwaeke Emezi after reading The Death of Vivek Oji, but I am now in complete awe after reading Freshwater. Emezi is a transcendent author. This semi-autobiographical novel was definitely dark and hard hitting (message me or check out my review on the StoryGraph for content warnings), but there is also so much life and light to be found here. This book gave me valuable insight into neurodivergence and gender exploration, while also teaching me about Igbo ontology. While western medicine would almost certainly diagnose this main character Ada with some kind of psychosis or bipolar disorder, there is an Igbo concept of “ogbanje,” a kind of malevolent spirit that lives inside certain children. Emezi envisions these spirits (who live inside Ada well past puberty) as inner Gods that have passed over from the other side, living inside their human form. Having these multiple selves certainly had a splintering effect on Ada, causing a lot of pain and struggle. But as they grow up, Ada also finds strength in these versions of themselves, learning and relearning their identity in all its multiplicity. As Ada begins to discover more about their Nigerian and Igbo ancestry, they can begin to see their inner demons in another light. I am SO glad the Queer Lit readathon picked this for the group read!

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erinsbookshelves's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


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