A review by mvvelde
On Fragile Waves, by E. Lily Yu

dark hopeful informative sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes


On Fragile Waves tells the riveting and raw refugee journey of an Afghan family of four: Omid, Bahar, Nour and Firuzeh Daizangi.

So much praise for this book! I really enjoyed the imagery as scenery changed from one country or geographical area to the next--and not just as in places but also in that of figments of imagination of Firuzeh and Nour. Throughout the grueling voyage towards becoming permanent refugees, Yu places bits and pieces of two different tales are told by mother or father to the children. I saw this incorporation of mysticism as something so realistic and inherent to parental nature.--that is: these tales are used to draw on the courage or other characteristics the characters within had, and to be used as encouragement for the difficulties Firuzeh and Nour were facing. In addition, I was glad to read from the position of different characters. For that of Firuzeh especially, it was lovely to read her self reflection. For others, such as the Nauru refugee camp workers, I much appreciated the juxtaposition of such a perspective next to that of the asylum seekers themselves. It highlighted the frivolity of the workers complaints about their own lives...they have jobs and loved ones and choose to be separate for days by choice, whilst the migrants have only each other, poor quality of food, etc. The former complains about the nature of the job. The latter are just happy that their loved ones are alive. For me, this added depth and meaning to the story, but also allowed me to connect better with Firuzeh and her family as characters.

I enjoyed Yu's style of writing, though I will admit that it took a few pages and occasional re-reading to get used to. For me, it seemed like a mirror of the chaos that existing within the reality of migrating. Words coming from here and there; interjections--not only of words but of actions--as others speak...it  was as if it the writing symbolized the  abrupt changes in the scenery and the people in and surrounding the lives of Firuzeh and her family.

Lastly, a thank you to Erewhon Books and NetGalley for the free eARC. It was truly a pleasure to read.

5 stars for On Fragile Waves!

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