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, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Western Africa, Nigeria

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...
  • Navidad Thelamour
    It’s not easy to persuade a human to end their life – they’re very attached to it, even when it makes them miserable, and Ada was no different. But it’s not the decision to cross back that’s difficult; it’s the crossing itself.Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater is a novel of layers that do not always nicely overlap; in fact, the pieces often seem to not fit together at all. It is a novel born from trauma and emotional paroxysms, a read that...
  • Hannah
    This was absolutely stunning. From the very first page I knew I was in for something extraordinary and unlike anything I have ever read. This debut combines many things I adore in books: unconventional framing and unreliable narrators, a story that gets recontextualized constantly and kept me on my toes, a basis in mythology that informed but did not over-shadow the actual story, perfect sentence structure that packs an unbelievable punch, and so...
  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    4 fresh, imaginative stars to Freshwater! The most creative book I’ve read this year! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 I have read nothing like Freshwater before. It is hard to categorize. It is literary fiction, but what else? Magical realism? Mysticism? The author noted at the end that this was her spiritual book, so I will go with spiritual literary fiction. I went with the literal flow while I was reading. Freshwater could be murky, even incoherent, at ...
  • 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...
  • Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
    Freshwater is a stunning novel, one that I dove into and couldn't surface out of for a while. It's like a pool of dark water that you don't really even want to get out of. And I was sad when the book finished - despite it being quite a violent and shaking experience. I am not lying when I say I intend to read it again.This review is quite long, so I suggest reading it on my blog. This Story Is What You Make Of It The most incredible aspect of Fr...
  • Rachel
    It's hard to talk about something that has no precedent. Freshwater is utterly unique, and the result is breathtaking. It's a dark, sensual, and thoughtful novel about a young woman coming to terms with and accepting the multiple identities that define her.The details of Ada's life - raised in Nigeria, relocated to the U.S. for college - are only an elemental framework for what is ultimately an introspective story. The majority of this book is na...
  • Dianne
    How to review this, how to review this............The first 50 pages or so of this book were really tough for me. I felt like I was physically fighting the book, trying to wrestle it into submission. After the initial struggle, I fell into a somewhat uneasy rhythm with the story but I never quite managed to embrace it. I can appreciate it somewhat remotely as a very original and inspired work of art, but it stirs very little depth of feeling or e...
  • Darkowaa
    !!! I had known this book was as evil, dark and sinful as it was, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to read it. But now that I’ve marinated the story in my mind for a while, I can confidently declare that Freshwater is so much more than it’s insane level of lust and blasphemy. Freshwater is a dark, layered tale based in and out of the spiritual realm, which focuses on how past traumas deeply affect...
  • Marie
    This is a startlingly raw and dark novel about spirituality, abuse, trauma and mental illness. In this fresh perspective, debut novelist Akwaeke Emezi embeds ogbanje, or nonhuman entities, within Ada, a girl born to parents who had prayed to the God Ala for a daughter. Ala, a serpentine God, the judge and mother who holds the underworld in her belly grants the parents their wish. Thus, Ada (name meaning the egg of a python) is born to suffer the ...
  • 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 ...
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    I was pulled in to this story (narrated by the author) of Ada, who is a gift from the (plural) Igbo serpent god to her parents for praying the right way. But because they were the child, the god(s) own her, and are always with her. There is a disturbing description of it at the beginning where they go inside the lining of her uterus, among other places. During a traumatic event, they take hold of Ada's body and then have the ability to completely...
  • Jessica Woodbury
    I did an unusual thing before writing this review, I looked at what other people have said about the book. Usually I like coming to a book without any advance knowledge and reviewing it without any awareness of its reception, but this time I was curious. It is a hard book to pin down, I was still trying to figure out which words I could use to describe it. It turns out that seeing the reviews helped. I saw many people calling this book "magical r...
  • Vanessa
    This was an intense read on so many levels. It’s strange but in a way that makes (mostly) perfect sense. The many facets of a person. The inner characters that live inside all of us. It is written in a completely unique and transformative way both contemporary and traditional. A real psychological analysis of a fractured individual being and the broken mind. How trauma can really fracture and consume a person. The inner dialogue that taunts and...
  • Shannon
    Having been a follower of Akwaeke Emezi on Instagram for some time, I was thrilled to see she'd written a novel. I expected it to be a reflection of the beautiful images and energy she floods us with on her Instagram feed. My oh my - I had no idea this book would be the exact opposite. The book's blurb does do a bit of foreshadowing by including phrases like: 'troubled baby,' 'source of deep concern to her parents,' 'volatile and splintered child...
  • Meike
    Akwaeke Emezi Is a "5 Under 35" Honoree 2018 of the National Book Foundation"Freshwater" cleverly discusses the human mind by inquiring what actually constitutes "mental illness": To what degree is our inner fragmentation - the multitude of feelings and urges, the freedom to be many things - part of the human condition, and when does it become harmful and destructive? Nigerian author Akwaeke Emezi employs African myths and Igbo spirituality in or...
  • PorshaJo
    Review to come.....need to gather my thoughts about this one.
  • Michelle
    Freshwater is the semi-autobiographical account of a young woman suffering from multiple personality disorder after a traumatic event. Steeped in Igbo tradition the main character Ada lives a life straddling two worlds. As the daughter of the serpent goddess Ala, she is born with “one foot on the other side” occupying the liminal spaces between the spirit realm and the flesh. What is the cause of her fractured self? Is she possessed or is she...
  • 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 spirits or deities that inhabit the protagonist's mind, forming a sort of plural identity. The result is an interesting perspective on a fractured sense of self. It is the reader's experience of this perspecti...
  • Sharon Metcalf
    3.5 starsRight up frint I'm going to say that Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi will not be right for everyone - but then again which book is?    It took me a while to understand what I was reading,  to figure out who was narrating the story and I had to concentrate at all times.   However this effort was well and truly rewarded.    This was an incredible debut full of beautiful, thought provoking passages and it was one of the most original s...
  • Paul Fulcher
    No matter how mad it sounded, the things that were happening in my head were real and had been happening for a very long time. After all the doctors and the diagnoses and the hospitals, this thing of being an Ọgbanje, a child of Ala - that was the only path that brought me any peace....My mother draws closer now. I can see a red road opening before me; the forest is green on either side and the sky is blue above it. The sun is hot on the back o...
  • Kay
    #RWLChallenge: A Book with a neurodiverse main character of colour (own voices).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 happe...
  • Tori (InToriLex)
    Content Warning: Rape, Sexual Abuse, Suicide, Substance Abuse, Self Harm didn't know what I was in for when I started this reading this road map into Ada's mind. Ada is a woman whose group of identities control and direct her life. The spectacular prose morphed this exploration of mental illness, into a memorable character study of  identity, gender and race. The novel follows Ada's life from birth through adulthood as she grapples with her rel...
  • 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...
  • Shawn Mooney
    Akwaeke Emezi’s debut is one of the most compelling—dare I say, bewitching—literary novels of recent years, largely a function of its incantatory prose and idiosyncratic narrative style. Its hero, Ada, is no mere mortal sufferer of multiple personalities but rather an Igbo deity struggling with incarnation. Who knew the novel form was porous enough—could be stretched enough—for such a story to roar through its gates?My BookTube review: ...
  • jo
    i finished this some time ago. i'm waiting to find the words to say what it meant to me, and what it means, in general, in my opinion. it's not a book for everyone, but if you are part of a multiple reality or experience dissociation, you should probably read it immediately. if you like the look of your blood and the feeling of pain that getting the blood out of your body entails, you should also probably read this. if you are trans and being tra...
  • Gumble's Yard
    Ada wanted a reason, a better explanation. We were not enough. We were too strange, She had been raised by humans, medical ones at hat. So instead she read lists of diagnostic criteria, things like disruptions of identity, self-damaging impulsivity, emotional instability and mood swings, self mutilating behaviour and recurrent suicidal behaviour. I could have told her it was all me, even the last one. Especially the last one. Maybe all her resear...
  • Donna
    I cannot put into words properly my thoughts on this novel. What I honestly think is it is masterfully written. Yes, I highly recommend for you to read it. Might I add, read without reading any reviews. I look forward to reading more works from Akwaeke.
  • Neil
    This is a very difficult book for me to review. It comes from a world that is very different to my own. There is a clue in the author description:"Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and artist based in liminal spaces."Then there is an interview in which the author refers to certain autobiographical "realities" that include her identity as an ogbanje. This is a new term for me, but Emezi explains it as…"…an Igbo spirit that's born into ...
  • Ifeyinwa
    Still cementing my thoughts on this, but the long story short is: I didn't like this novel- the writing and execution. There was a lot more telling than showing with minimal buildup and character development.--------------------------My interest in this novel is rooted in being a follower of Akwaeke's social media platforms. So, I was beside myself with excitement when she announced its publication a while back. Earlier this year, I attempted to ...