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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • PorshaJo
    Review to come.....need to gather my thoughts about this one.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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: ...
  • 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.
  • Janelle
    FRESHWATER by Akwaeke Emezi - Thank you so much to Grove Atlantic for providing my free copy - all opinions are my own.“Think of brief insanities that are in you, not just the ones that blossomed as you grew into taller, more sinful versions of yourself, but the ones you were born with, tucked behind your liver. Take us, for instance.”Ada is a young Nigerian woman who is believed to be ogbanje, which literally translates into “children who ...
  • Jaime
    Wow. I am almost speechless after finishing Freshwater. First of all, I was warned by the summary of the book yet I was not prepared for this novel. I liked that Freshwater was character driven. The story focuses on Ada and her fractured selves, Asughara and Saint Vincent. The story is narrated from the perspective of the various selves within Ada which made it a very uncomfortable (dark, and disturbing) read. Akwaeke Emezi’s writing style is c...
  • 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...
  • Jessica Sullivan
    "The first madness was that we were born, that they stuffed a god into a bag of skin."I've never read anything like this debut novel, and am in awe of its fierceness.Ada is born with an Ogbanje (a godlike Igbo spirit) inside her, and the story begins with the Ogbanje's narration from within her body. At college, Ada is raped by a classmate, prompting Asughara, the most dominant spirit, to take over and shield her from future pain. Ada is aware of...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Renee (some kind of a library)
    First, I would like to thank Grove Atlantic for my copy of Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, as well as the beautiful letterpress bookmark! Thank you! When I read the synopsis for Freshwater I was instantly intrigued but also a little hesitant to be honest. This isn't a story I would normally have pulled off a bookstore shelf on my own. But much to my surprise, I ended up really taking a lot away from this story. Freshwater left me rattled, it unsettl...
  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    Strange yet beautiful, this book is about a woman warring against forces inside herself that she cannot accept. She sees them as ogbanje, evil spirits that live inside her, split her personality and cause her to do things that are unacceptable to her family, her religion, and her own sense of who she is as a person. This was a really engaging book.
  • Dominique
    My review:
  • 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!