Author: Akwaeke Emezi Series: Standalone Genre: Fiction Release Date: February 13, 2018 Book Length: 229 pages Publisher: Grove Press Review: 4/5
This is definitely one of the more interesting books I’ve read this year, and not only did I enjoy it in general, but I learned a lot while doing so.
Freshwater is about a girl named Ada born in Nigeria. In Igbo traditional belief, Ada is an ogbanje – a spirit child who dies and reincarnates over and over to the same parents, often causing them a lot of grief and trouble.
However, Ada does not die as a child, but makes it through to adulthood, though it is not without behaviour – self destructive or otherwise – which allows her to flirt with death: turbulent, mentally and physically abusive relationships; self harm; suicide attempts; an eating disorder; and binge drinking to name a few.
The trauma Ada faces awakens an ogbanje which she names Asughara. Asughara takes over most of the narration after Ada finds out she is being sexually assaulted by her boyfriend in her sleep. Though at times, Asughara insists that they are protecting Ada, they are also the driving force for many future self-destructive decisions Ada makes. Another spirit within Ada, Saint Vincent, encourages her to date women and explore her non-binary identity. It is very difficult for Ada to focus in on which ogbanje she should listen to, because they are often swaying her in different directions.
This was a great book about self discovery; it was very well written and thought provoking, and I can not recommend it enough.