Reviews tagging Medical trauma

Freshwater, by Akwaeke Emezi

6 reviews

n_asyikin_'s review

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challenging dark reflective tense slow-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

A beautifully written story exploring heavy topics rooted in the impact of childhood trauma. Personally, I thought reading Freshwater was akin to a religious experience. Emezi wrote it in such a whimsical way, going into depth, the state of our main character's mind. Emezi's way with words were one of the most memorable I have encountered. (Its whimsical-ness reminds me to a Nigerian British author Ben Okri). 

Emezi also has a knack of weaving powerful elements into the background of the story, e.g. how the religions of the old were eclipsed by the new, often erasing its influence in the current society. They also highlighted how culture is imbued in many aspects of our living. Coming from a background in psychology, it is easy to infer that Ada might have
Spoiler a form of dissociative disorder, particularly dissociative identity disorder (DID). But in the earlier part of the story, I was hesitant to assume that.
Because psychology & medicine have always been centred in/for the Western world; there have been instances whereby what is considered a norm in one culture is pathologized by the Western world. I thought Emezi explored that issue in a compassionate way; certainly left me contemplating upon how best to support victims of trauma, particularly if their "symptoms" actually helped them cope: it is a topic that is (still) being debated among clinicians & scientists.
Spoiler Regardless, I loved reading about how Ada found her solution, her own acceptance.


The topics explored here are heavy. I certainly advised caution & care for readers who might be vulnerable when exploring such issues (i.e. abuses, gender identity & dysphoria). 

But if you can read it, I thought Emezi gave such issues with as much care & nuances as they could; that the story felt beyond the realm we live in - in other words, it's spiritual & other-worldly. Yet, Ada and her ogbanje (or alters, or perhaps, maybe they are her Gods) anchored you to the ground of reality, in a way that felt weightless but also, substantial. Honestly, I thought I was exposed to a timeless source of wisdom through this book. 

I heard a lot of praises about Emezi & this was my first read of their works. And I am beyond moved. Cannot wait to read more from them!

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womanwill's review

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challenging dark emotional mysterious reflective sad slow-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


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vanguardens's review

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

4.5

“I have lived many lives inside this body. I lived many lives before they put me in this body. I will live many lives when they take me out of it.”

Wow. This book was a powerful read. This is the story of both Ada and Emezi themself. Ada is afflicted with the obangje, spirits that live inside her body but do not necessarily belong. Their birth was careless and harm 'the Ada' throughout the book while also giving her protection. Whether you read this book through the lens of mental illness or a pure focus of spirituality, there is a lot to be gleaned by seeing.

This is not a book for people who cannot delve into the matters of the self and dealing with and healing from trauma. It is written in a lyrical and raw way that you'll need to take breaks from. It is unmistakably heavy, especially given the amount of trauma Ada suffers over her lifetime. But if you have the stomach for it, the journey is worth it.

I loved the writing of this book. It mirrors how I think about both myself and the world at times. Emezi writes things with a pointed tongue, never letting up on subject matter that is important. This book is deeply important to me, as a non-binary person. They write to us so well, they see us so well. We were able to see each character as deeply as Ada and the other-selves could. Ada struggles deeply with humans because she is first and foremost and in-betweener yet she still struggles with seeing and being seen in a deeply human way.

“The worst part of embodiment is being unseen.”

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biblioleah's review

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challenging dark emotional mysterious reflective sad tense fast-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

this was a beautiful, difficult book. i look forward to rereading it in the future, and seeing what more i can get from the marvelous story.

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natverse's review

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challenging dark emotional reflective sad tense fast-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

I'd love to give this author more than 5 stars once again. There's something about a story about the dual self and the pain of consciousness in a body as a prison that I really feel. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Once again the writing is beautiful.


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therainbowshelf's review

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

4.25

What happens when a baby is born with gods who remember being gods inside her? Freshwater is a haunting exploration of metaphysical existence shoved into flesh. Ada and her godselves struggle with identity throughout the book, trying to find a balance between the metaphysical nature of the godselves and Ada's physical body that they share. The book reads a bit like someone experiencing dissociative identity disorder because of the way that one of the godselves materializes following a trauma and continues taking over the body whenever related situations come up. Akwaeke Emezi doesn't pull any punches as Ada and her godselves survive traumatic experiences that complicate their understanding of identity. I enjoyed the many glimpses this book gave me into Igbo culture and mythology, which I am not very familiar with beyond things I've learned from other novels. Ada's later exploration of sexuality and gender identity was also very welcome. I was a bit detached from many parts of book because there is a lot of focus on sex throughout, which I simply didn't connect with as much because I've rarely experienced that drive myself. 

This book may be difficult for anyone who has experienced trauma, panic attacks, sexual assault, has detached parents, or has been touched by suicide. 

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