A review by mishys2
On Fragile Waves, by E. Lily Yu

dark emotional sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated
TW: Self harm, suicide 

A beautifully written story about a family’s journey for survival. To escape a country that was no longer safe and tread across treacherous waters to a newfound land they could call home.

This story starts off hopeful but it’s far from it. We follow their journey from Pakistan, as they escape by boat to Nauru and finally to Australia. The real story is what happens in between. Their journey, their fight for survival, and all the risks they took to reach new land. 

We are shown are side that’s not often talked about. What actually goes on in these refugee camps. How they are treated and if they even make it out alive. 

That racism is real and alive in Australia. As much as it’s a multicultural country, we are far from the accepting and moving country we should be. The terrible treatment given to refugees, the zero support network, and reliant on volunteers to help. 

Firuzeh and her family are faced with countless struggles from living on bread and dry chicken to rejection letters to the xenophobic and racist people they meet. They really are just trying to start a new life but people can be so cruel. 

We also get a glimpse into the family dynamic of a family that praises their only son over their daughter. A son that gets to play soccer, have treats and hang with friends. While their daughter is stuck at home doing homework and chores.

The daughter who is haunted by her dead friend. The friend who didn’t make it across the waters. Who talks to her in her dreams and saves her from her nightmares. 

The story itself was heartbreaking indeed. We see two parents struggling to make ends meet. The division they placed between brother and sister. The rage that was bubbling inside a little girl. 

The lyrical prose is something to get used too, and the lack of quotations marks often left me confused with who was speaking. Aside from that, there were random chapters of side characters (that had quotation marks?) that didn’t really add anything to the rest of the story. However, I loved the setting of Melbourne and use of Aussie slang. 

If you like poetic-like prose and a touch of magical realism. A story of a struggling family just trying to survive. Then this ones for you. 

Thank you Netgalley and Erewhon Books for providing me with this arc in exchange for my honest review. 

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