NetGalley has been good to me. I was hesitant when I first received the recommendation from Goodreads to sign up and get to read books in exchange for a review. I thought, “why ask for books just to review them?”
Then the gods of literature struck and I was working in Kisumu and couldn’t find alternative sources of buying books. I was in a literal dry spell and my mind was asking to be nourished by something, so I signed up and since then I’ve read 47 books off NetGalley. I’ve come to know of authors whom I’ll always keep an eye out for like Clar Ni Chonghaile, Timothy Ogene, and now Akwaeke Emezi.
So, my NG experience aside, let me tell you about Akwaeke’s book called Freshwater!
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 the spirits inside Ada, and you are also an outsider observing Ada which made this book irresistible.
When Ada struggles to come to terms with what’s happening inside her mind, they remind her that she is them and they are her.
Sectioning the Ada gave her isolated pockets of memory, each containing a different version of her. There were versions to whom bad things had happened and, therefore, there were versions of her to whom these things had not happened. This terrified her, because if there were so many of her,then which one was she?
I love how the voice of each of the gods within Ada was firm. There was a certain dominance and certainty to them that made me await the awakening of Ada. I was reading this and when I got to Chapter Twenty, all I could keep saying was “come on Ada, get up Ada!”
It is at exactly that moment that I read this When you break something, you must study the pattern of the shattering before you can piece it back together. So it was with the Ada. She was a question wrapped up in breath: How do you survive when they place a god inside your body?
There is a phrase in the book that goes First feed your gods which I found to be remarkable simple but the weight of it stayed with me. If there’s anything that I learned from this book is that people are as unique as they come and no matter how many voices speak up or demand attention in your head, in that shattering moment, you are still the one who counts. Finding out how to make it count is what matters.
Check out her website for more at: http://www.akwaeke.com/
Her story “Who is like God?” clinched the 2017 Commonwealth Short story Prize from Africa: read it here
I’d like to thank Grove Atlantic, Grove Press and NetGalley for the advance copy, for it’s been a refreshing read.
Drinking: Tea (my second cup of the day)
Listening to: Lust for Life by Lana Del Ray
Hooked to: Elevation Church sermons (I listen to a sermon every night before I sleep)
Currently reading: Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes