Reviews tagging Car accident

Freshwater, by Akwaeke Emezi

18 reviews

valpatine's review

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challenging dark emotional mysterious reflective sad tense 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? It's complicated

5.0


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courtneyfalling's review

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dark emotional 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

It took me a little bit (probably most of the first section) to get into the narrative style of this book, but once I was there, it was so haunting and emotionally devastating. 

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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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anovelbeauty's review

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

3.75

Book TW: ❗️attempted suicide (on-page); rape (on-page)❗️abuse; eating disorder; repeated self-harm/mutilation; manipulation; involuntary hospitalisation

There’s a /lot/ to this novel. So much in fact, I almost feel I can’t write a decent review for it. I learned a lot through this novel, specifically about the Nigerian concept of ognanje. I know many aspects of this novel are also inspired by Emezi’s own experiences with their gender. Freshwater is extremely well written. It is beautiful and harsh, it unflinchingly explores a lot of deep and hurtful topics and let’s you draw your own conclusions about any one character’s morality (or lack thereof) and choices. 
Now, I do want to say, right up front, that this novel scared me. It didn’t really start until the emergence of Asughara or “The Beast Self.” Maybe I should just say that Asyghara scares me? But her perspective is so prevalent in the novel and is such a dark influence within Ada’s life experience in the book, it is often manipulative, harmful, and abusive, punctuated by a rare few moments where she actually does protect Ada, but that doesn’t outweigh the bad. But essentially a spirit having that much negative impact and control over Ada freaked me out in the same way that demon possession plots are just a thing I cannot do in movies and books. It just is too real and freaks me out (I realize this is a me problem, but I still wanted to mention it). 
That aside, the plot of the book was very well developed as it walked you through Ada’s life and with the perspectives of the Brothersisters and Asughara throughout. I do wish that we got St. Vincent’s POV as I felt that would have perhaps provided a better balance to Asughara’s chapters. The few times we get Ada and the “We” perspectives are always fascinating. 
This book explores a lot of Nigerian spirituality, both traditional and Christianised. The way that Yshwa (Jesus) is portrayed in the novel is interesting and definitely touching at points. He is woven throughout the novel as Ada works through her faith and her experiences clashing and rebuilding throughout her life. 
This is also a novel of genderfluidity. As the brothersisters inhabit Ada and exert their influence on her, she becomes more ogbanje than human, more they than she over the course of the story. 
From a mental health perspective there is /a lot/ to unpack. While the book is very specific to point out that the different ogbanje fronting for Ada are not different personalities (so this is /not/ DID or as it used to be known Multiple Personality Disorder), there is also a portion of the novel that talks about a “fracturing” of Ada’s memories after trauma and how the fractures are kept separate to help her cope. This second description is similar to one of the newer theories of DID, but it is explored only a little bit in the book, so there is not quite as much to go on and is definitely separate from the ogbanje. Also, most other things that would be mental illnesses or mental health concerns for Ada are almost always caused by the ogbanje (mostly Asughara), so it’s an interesting intertwining because Ada’s experiences are caused by such a complex inner world but have standard outward symptoms of various problems. 
Overall, this is an extremely well-written and thought provoking book. I’m still thinking about it. I read/watched about six reveiws before writing mine, specially trying to find some own-voices reviews to fill in some of my knowledge gaps and get some other views on the story. I really enjoyed the review by Uche Ezeudu on YouTube as she gave a Nigerian perspective on the story. 
While it is definitely bleak at times, particularly in the middle of the story, the ending makes it closer to empowering. If you want a book will make you think and take you in with beautiful, sharp writing, you should read this wonderful debut novel from Emezi.

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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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ceallaighsbooks's review

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challenging dark emotional hopeful inspiring reflective sad tense 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? Yes

5.0

“…because this was my life, you understand? No matter how mad it sounded, the things that were happening in my head were real and had been happening for a very long time. After all the doctors and the diagnoses and the hospitals, this thing of being an ogbanje, a child of Ala—that was the only path that brought me any peace.” 
 
TITLE—Freshwater 
AUTHOR—Akwaeke Emezi 
PUBLISHED—2018 
 
GENRE—literary fiction (reads somewhat like a memoir) 
SETTING—Nigeria; America; liminal spaces 
MAIN THEMES/SUBJECTS—trauma, grief, neurodivergency, DID, “madness”, identity, sex, nonbinary & trans identity, religion, mythology 
 
WRITING STYLE—⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
CHARACTERS—⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
PLOT—⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
BONUS ELEMENT/S—I mean just the incredible parallels between the MC/author?’s experience of their neurodivergency and a DID-like “condition”? and my own is just… I’m speechless. 
PHILOSOPHY—⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
 
“They sent a psychiatrist to come and evaluate her, but he didn’t like our attitude and I could tell that he wanted to lock us up. That sobered me up faster than anything else would have. There was no way I was ever letting someone commit us…” 
 
[Note: please pay special attention to the TWs for this book before going in—it’s very intense in that area.] 
 
This was an INCREDIBLY personal book for me and I wrote a whole long personal review of it and then decided that I just am not ready to share all of that with um well I guess anyone? yet so 😅 I’m so amazed Emezi was able to write their story like this. I’m just, totally speechless with what they’ve done and Idk if they realize what they’ve done for others like (and of course, not like, but very similar to anyway) them because wow. This is the most important book of my entire life and I can’t believe that it exists and I’m obviously about to go read everything else they’ve ever written and I just, I can’t even talk about this book? like in terms of it being a *book* and I’m going to write a *review* of it so, sorry about that but, yeah. I’m still stunned. I’ve actually already reread it too like. I may be just constantly reading and rereading this book forever, so. Check out the favorite quotes I’ve listed below because that will start to give you a sense of what about this book was so important to me and what its main themes are. 🥰 
 
“It was very hard letting go of being human. I felt as if I had been taken away from the world I knew, like there was now thick glass between me and the people I loved. If I told them the truth, they would think I was mad.” 
 
(FUCK. This book was so good. 😭😭😭) 
 
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
 
TW // desc. of a child being hit by a car, abandonment, self harm—cutting, sexual assault, rape, trauma, grief, eating disorders, suicide attempt 
 
Further Reading— 
  • everything else by Akwaeke Emezi especially their newest book Dear Senthuran
  • The Icarus Girl, by Helen Oyeyemi 
  • White is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi 
  • The Bird’s Nest, by Shirley Jackson—TBR
  • The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
  • also The Bone People, by Keri Hulme! It seems like a subtle connection but I think it’s actually really there in like a big way…


Favorite Quotes...
 
“Humans often pray and forget what their mouths can do, forget that every ear is listening, that when you direct your longing to the gods, they can take that personally.” 
 
“This is all, ultimately, a litany of madness—the colors of it, the sounds it makes in heavy nights, the chirping of it across the shoulder of the morning. Think of brief insanities that are in you, not just the ones that blossomed as you grew into taller, more sinful versions of yourself, but the ones you were born with, tucked behind your liver.” 
 
“Reality was a difficult space for her to inhabit, unsurprisingly, what with one foot on the other side and gates in between.” 
 
“…bodies are not meant to remember things from the other side. There are rules. But these are gods and they move like heated water, so the rules are softened and stretched. The gods do not care. It is not them, after all, that will pay the cost.” 
 
“We think about this because there has to be a point, a purpose to this, a reason for why we were thrust across the river, screeching and fighting. There must be a thought behind this entrapment, our having to endure this glut of humanity.” 
 
“Earlier, when we said she went mad, we lied. She has always been sane. It’s just that she was contaminated with us, a godly parasite with many heads, roaring inside the marble room of her mind.” 
 
“…but he would never get her again. I had arrived, flesh from flesh, true blood from true blood. I was the wildness under the skin, the skin into a weapon, the weapon over the flesh. I was here. No one would ever touch her again.” 
 
“…but I had promised to let her hold her lies if they would keep her sane.” 
 
“I hope it scrapes your mouth bloody to say it. When you name something, it comes into existence—did you know that?” 
 
“I don’t even have the mouth to tell this story. I’m so tired most of the time. Besides, whatever they will say will be the truest version of it, since they are the truest version of me.” 
 
“But I am not entirely opposed to madness, not when it comes with this kind of clarity.” 
 
“…they talked as if things weren’t impossible, as if choices hadn’t already been made.” 
 
“after all, Ada loved him too now. She and the girl were basically on the same side.” 
 
“They were balanced now—the Ada, her little beast, and her saint—the three of them locked in marbled flesh, burning through the world.” 
 
“She wasn’t sure if we were real, but nothing about us felt false… They would’ve told Ada that she was crazy or that we weren’t real, and I couldn’t allow those lies… like she thought we were abnormal. How can, when we were her and she was us?” 
 
“We’re the buffer between you and madness, we’re not the madness.” 
 
“They sent a psychiatrist to come and evaluate her, but he didn’t like our attitude and I could tell that he wanted to lock us up. That sobered me up faster than anything else would have. There was no way I was ever letting someone commit us…” 
 
“…because this was my life, you understand? No matter how mad it sounded, the things that were happening in my head were real and had been happening for a very long time. After all the doctors and the diagnoses and the hospitals, this thing of being an ogbanje, a child of Ala—that was the only path that brought me any peace.” 
 
“Sometimes, you recognize truth because it destroys you for a bit.” 
 
“It was very hard letting go of being human. I felt as if I had been taken away from the world I knew, like there was now thick glass between me and the people I loved. If I told them the truth, they would think I was mad.” 

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aquamarine18's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional hopeful 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? Yes

5.0

<i>Freshwater</i> is a novel that I didn't read when it first came out mostly due to the content warnings, and they are warranted - this is a difficult read.  However, I'm so glad that I did read it -- it is incredibly well written, deeply affecting, innovative, and captivating -- magical realism at its absolute best.  Beyond being an incredible story, <i>Freshwater</i> is a reflection on identity, selfhood, and spirit that is unlike anything I've ever read before.  Incredible debut -- I very much look forward to reading Emezi's work.

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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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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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candycain'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? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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