A review by colbytsrm
Freshwater, by Akwaeke Emezi

dark emotional reflective sad 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
A moving and biting story of wrestling with and finding power in one's identity, and the physical and mental destruction that arises when we're in conflict with who we are.

The storytelling builds upon spirituality, which was exquisitely done and seamless. The strongest moments of the book for me were the scenes that shared commentary and dialogue between theĀ  gbanje (Igbo spirits) and Ada, the main protagonist, on identity, self-harm, and spirituality. The author nails the emotions and thoughts that comes with feeling hurt, feeling torn, feeling free. Very powerful.

I would have liked to see more tension and dialogue between Ada and the ogbanje, and to feel what Ada was thinking and feeling when her agency was overridden at times. A lot of the chapters took on the perspective of a particular ogbanje or Ada and near the end, you see more of the interaction between them, but it would have been rewarding to see those dynamics earlier. Also, I found Asughara draining as their chapters continued - while I can see that we were probably supposed to feel frustrated, it felt like it dragged on too much. I was also disappointed that we didn't get more of St. Vincent and to see the impact St. Vincent had on Ada.

Overall, it was a great read and there were specific moments that I felt to my core and I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in gender identity, nonbinary and trans stories, African spirituality and systems of knowledge, identity in general, self-harm, and autobiographical fiction.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings