On Fragile Waves

E. Lily Yu

fiction fantasy magical realism speculative fiction
adventurous emotional medium-paced

288 pages | first published 2020

Firuzeh and her brother Nour are children of fire, born in an Afghanistan fractured by war. When their parents, their Atay and Abay, decide to leave, they spin fairy tales of their destination, the mythical land and opportunities of Australia.
As the family journeys from Pakistan to Indonesia to Nauru, heading toward a hope of home, they must rely on fragile and temporary shelters, strangers both mercenary and kind, and friends who vanish as quickly as they’re found.
When they arrive in Australia, what seemed like a stable shore gives way to treacherous currents. Neighbors, classmates, and the government seek their own ends, indifferent to the family’s fate. For Firuzeh, her fantasy worlds provide some relief, but as her family and home splinter, she must surface from  these imaginings and find a new way.

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summary of 17 ratings (see reviews)

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emotional 76%
sad 76%
challenging 46%
reflective 46%
dark 38%
informative 23%
hopeful 15%
inspiring 15%
tense 7%


medium 50%
fast 41%
slow 8%

Plot- or character-driven?

Character: 55% | A mix: 33% | Plot: 11%

Strong character development?

Yes: 72% | No: 18% | It's complicated: 9%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 54% | It's complicated: 36% | No: 9%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 100%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

It's complicated: 62% | Yes: 37%

Average rating