Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi


An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born "with one foot on the other side." Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.Ada begins her life in ...

Details Freshwater

Release DateFeb 13th, 2018
PublisherGrove Press
GenreFiction, Cultural, Africa, Western Africa, Nigeria, Contemporary

Reviews Freshwater

  • Elyse
    When I got the depths of this novel, here during these dark hours, I was blown away! My eyes were misty at the end.It’s absolutely the most brilliant creative book written of its kind ....It became personal to me....looking back at my own journey- my own struggles - my own fight - my own growth - my own inner peace.At one point I kept thinking,“No wonder it’s soooo hard for people to get well”. “No wonder people repeat the same repetiti...
  • PattyMacDotComma
    5★ DEBUT! “DedicationTo those of uswith one footon the other side." “By the time she (our body) struggled out into the world, slick and louder than a village of storms, the gates were left open. We should have been anchored in her by then, asleep inside her membranes and synched with her mind. That would have been the safest way. But since the gates were open, not closed against remembrance, we became confused. We were at once old and newb...
  • Hannah
    Oh wow. Dark and weird and emotional and stylistically wonderful. What an impressive book.Review to come when my head is cleared. My rating might still change... It already has. I am still unsure how to talk about this, so for now: extraordinary.
  • Tudor Vlad
    I think that the best praise a book can get is having the reader think to himself “this is something that I have never read”, and this is what made Freshwater for me such an outstanding experience, the fact that I had no prior book that I could compare it to, it was completely new territory. It is also what makes it so damn hard to review, there are all these feelings mixed up in my mind and making sense of them is just as hard as it was for ...
  • Darkowaa
    I don’t know how to rate this. I’m conflicted between 3 and 4 stars. On Akwaeke’s ogbanje Twitter account, she was quoting some alternative blurbs for ‘Freshwater’, from friends who read the book. One quote aptly sums up this debut: “this book is both an escape plan, first aid kit and therapist. also, I came twice”. If I had known this book was as evil, dark and sinful as it was, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to read it. But ...
  • Kristina
    Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for granting me this request of getting a free e-copy in exchange for a review.Just a disclaimer: my review does absolutely nothing for the book. It is far too brilliant. We'd need an entire day and a glass of wine or a cup of tea on an open veranda to discuss. When I started "Freshwater", my initial thoughts were "Aah...what's this?" Lol. But upon completion, a breathed a very weighted "whoa". Freshwater is q...
  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    via my blog:'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 one splintered read, which is the intention to convey a shattering mind. It took a bit of time for me to get into the many voices, in fact I held off on writing a review because it’s such a strange take on mental illnes...
  • Krystal
    WoW! Extraordinary debut novel! This engaging #ownvoices book captures vivid imagery in weaving a narrative that pushes the limits of what is conventionally considered possible!
  • Kay
    Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for approving my request for a free digital copy in exchange for a review.TW: RapeRepresentation for: PTSD, Multiple Personality DisorderThis book is too good, and at around 41 pages to go I decided to stop reading. I may pick it up again but I decided to stop because I didn't want to say goodbye to this book. This has never happened before and I doubt it ever will again. Freshwater is easily one of the top t...
  • Lex Poot
    Caveat: I won this book in the Goodreads Giveaway.2nd book in three weeks in which the spiritual world plays a big role. It is obvious that events in her early life has "allowed" the spirits to enter her body to cope with abuse which she keeps seeking whether in self-mutilation or abusive relationships. Very interesting book though at the end of the book I got kind of lost in where her restless souls were bringing her. She traveled from one conti...
  • Jill
    I picked up this book on a whim never having heard of it or the author before. The book description is accurate, but this book is so much more. The Ada, as the alternate selves refer to their body, transforms from a victim of sorts to something much more powerful. I especially loved the conversations in the marble room which refer to the internal conversations between the selves and Asughara’s conversation with Christ. This book is certainly a ...
  • Andre
    A fascinating twisted tale that suffocates all the light and takes the reader to a dark place. This in no way implies that the book isn't readable or worthy of recommendation, just the most accurate description I can give in a sentence. Ada was prayed for by her parents, who wanted to have a girl and so her their prayers were answered and Ada was born, but with one foot in the spirit world and one foot in the human world. The story is told altern...
  • Dominique
    My review:
  • Swarnika Sankhla
    Understand this if you understand nothing; it is a powerful thing to be seen. Mesmerising. Phenomenal. Dazzling. Fresh. Mystical. I wanted to simply paste the first chapter of this book here, instead of writing a review.For starters, I'm completely blown away by the writing. This is unlike anything I have ever read before, totally pulled in from the very beginning, fully engrossed in the surreal narrative. I'm already looking forward to what Akwa...
  • Marchpane
    A unique examination of painful adolescence, Freshwater is bewitching, bewildering and arresting in equal measure. The novel combines an almost stream-of-consciousness narrative style with the central conceit of the multiple narrators being deities that inhabit the protagonist's mind. The result is an interesting perspective on a fracturing sense of self. It is the reader's experience of this perspective, rather than the actual story or plot, tha...
  • Amirah Jiwa
    Wow. I'm blown away. This is an astonishing debut by Emezi that sucked me in and then spat me out, moved and changed. I've been anticipating this work for a while now as I follow the author on instagram and have read some of her short stories published online, but nothing prepared me for the form this novel took and the power it had. I normally shy away from reading about anything supernatural or spiritual and if I'd known the content of this I m...
  • Cristina
    Seamlessly weaving a Nigerian mythos of mischievous gods (Ọgbanje) with a Western understanding of psychopathology, this breakout novel burrows into the experience of trauma, self-awareness, and spiritual awakening. The deeply surreal story is narrated by a girl with "one foot on the other side" and the chorus of selves that reside in her fractured mind. Somehow despite the extremely heavy and personal subject matter, Emezi's narrative voices a...
  • Sarah
    A surprising novel to finish the year. I was confused for several chapters, but let my brain settle into the magic realism, or mysticism, or whatever you want to call it, and enjoyed the story from there. It's tough to read at times, never completely clear... but also really beautiful and touching. I'm so glad I found this little treasure.I received a review copy from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
  • Ilona
    A difficult book to categorize, a difficult book to rate. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi tells the story of Ada, a woman born in Nigeria with a personality disorder causing her to have two alternative selves living her life with her. Triggered into existence by traumatic experiences in her youth, Asụghara and Saint Vincent believe to help Ada live her life, which they regularly take over and control. This story is partly told from the perspectives...
  • Elo Osunde
    Freshwater is a brutal, dark comfort. Its voices are sharp and merciless. I read it in fevered rushes in the space of two days, and after crying so hard because of how understood it made me feel, I immediately wrote the author a letter. Before Freshwater, I had entered and hidden myself so well in book-worlds, but I had never, until Freshwater, encountered a book that could peel my layers and then show me my deepest selves with such stubborn clar...
  • Kristina Reads - Books. Blogs. Memes.
    3.5 starsTrigger warnings: HEAVY for suicide and self-injury, as well as drug use, domestic violence, and sexual abuse of children.This is all, ultimately, a litany of madness …This is going to be a short review because it’s hard to say much about this book. This was a well-written and fascinating look into severe mental illness, narrated by the varying personalities existing within Ada as well as Ada herself.The first third or so of the book...
  • Katherine
    I always appreciate reading books that are as unique as this one. It would be impossible for me to categorize it and nearly as difficult to describe it to someone. I believe each reader will interpret this book in their own way. Is this book about a woman with mental illness who has been repeatedly traumatized and who has reacted to these events by creating separate personalities to help her cope, or about a woman who is also a God and has spirit...
  • Dora Okeyo
    This book held me captive till the very end.The story follows Ada, a child who upon birth is believed to possess two spirits inside her. As she grows, she's both sweet and volatile, something that is not known to everyone for her spirits take charge each seeking to meet their own selfish needs. The author molds a story that is both candid and incomplete for she uses mysticism to weave an understanding of mental illness. You feel as though you are...
  • Carl
    The best of Fantasy and horror takes you to new places, new realities in such a way as to fully buy into its existence entirely and effortlessly, so you simply enjoy the ride to wherever the writer goes.Freshwater is just such a book. Ada, a troubled young Nigerian girl is born with a host of Nigerian Spirits/Gods trapped inside her, all vying for control. What follows is a tale of the fight for control and co-existence quite unlike anything I've...
  • Olutimehin Adegbeye
    Freshwater is an astonishing book. There's no other way to describe the pure originality of the style, the voice, and especially the content of this book. Stepping lightly from theme to theme, the author unflinchingly explores difficult subjects like identity, displacement, mental illness and self-acceptance in a way that is unprecedented, challenging and, to me, deeply necessary. Freshwater is a genre-defying work of such profound confidence tha...
  • Diane Payne
    This was not an easy read, and that's not just because of the we/brothersister/Ada selves that also take on the role of one character, but because of the darkness that fills the life of our main character with the splintered souls. Most of the time I enjoyed the lyrical narrative, the experimental prose. There were times I felt I was uncertain I was following the thread as intended.
  • BooksnFreshair (Poornima Apte)
    This book...WOW!
  • Jarune Uwujaren
    To be honest, I only created a Goodreads account for the chance to get an early copy of this book. Mercifully, the book got delivered to my house a month early on a preorder 10 hours ago. I want to say I devoured this book, but more accurately, it devoured me--Emezi's prose is transportive like that.I won't summarize the book much in this review because there are many existing reviews that point to the story. I will say I have never read a book l...
  • Cynthia
    Whew. A part of me thinks I should probably wait a day or two before writing the review to let all that I've read completely marinate and digest. However, I am compelled to get it all out while the impression it has left is strong and penetrating. The Dedication of the book says "To those of us with one foot on the other side." From that moment you know this book will be unlike anything you've ever read and it did not disappoint. Emezi illustrate...
  • Catherine
    A god/gods is incarnated in a baby human girl. The girl grows up, leaves Nigeria to attend college in the U.S., suffers from mental illness, and is abused. The god, for their part, rails against being unable to return from this body. Some of the other advance reviews I’ve read don’t grapple with these gods and make them entirely metaphorical, but I think that doing so would leave us without much story, for they carry most of the narrative. Bu...