Title: The Deep
Author: Rivers Solomon w/Daveed Diggs, William Butson, and Jonathan Snipes
Publication Date: Nov 5th, 2019
Source: e-ARC (Netgalley)
One Sentence Synopsis
Yetu is the sole keeper of her aquatic society’s history, but the tragedy in their past is slowly destroying her.
This quote is from an uncorrected copy and may change in the final version
“She had no wish to transform trauma to performance, to parade what she’d come to think of as her own tragedies for entertainment.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
First things first, I keep waffling between 3.5 and 4 stars for this book. I don’t tend to give out half stars and I usually round up on Goodreads, so I went with four stars. And yet… I don’t know if it quite reaches a four. I feel like this is because my feelings about this book are very much confused.
This is the story of the wajinru, a race of ocean-dwelling people who are the descendants of pregnant slave women who were tossed overboard during the journey across the Atlantic. Our main character is Yetu, who is the current Historian for the wajinru. It is the Historian’s job to carry all the memories of the wajinru’s past so that everyone doesn’t have to suffer under the weight of their tragic beginnings. It’s a position of importance, but it is taking a toll on Yetu. When the time of year comes where Yetu can shed the memories to share them with her people, she takes the opportunity to swim as far away as she can. On her journey, she learns more about her past and how to reclaim her people’s history to ensure their future.
I will say that I enjoyed reading this novella. The writing was evocative and raw, bringing up emotions that I was not prepared for. It speaks to tragedy and how it can define a whole community. But it also speaks to how we shouldn’t let tragedy be our only defining factor. There is a lot of back and forth in this book. You can see how carrying the wajinru history is destroying Yetu and you can understand why she would want to be rid of it. But you can also see how lost a person can become without a sense of where they come from. There’s a lot to unpack with this book.
And… honestly… I think that might be my issue with this book. Well, not the fact that there’s a lot to unpack, but the fact that there’s a lot to unpack in only 166 pages! I felt like the topics in this narrative would have benefited from a more substantial book. Though The Deep is a wonderfully written story, it felt almost superficial. I personally just wish it would have been longer!
Final thoughts: This was a beautifully crafted novella that tackles some very intense subjects. The writing is powerful but the length left me feeling like something was missing. I wanted more!