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The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’ rap group Clipping.

Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.

Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future,” The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting.”

The Deep

I got an ARC of this book.

Every time I went to the beach as a kid I had a strange sensation that would distract me for hours afterwards. I would be sitting perfectly still, but I would still feel the waves hitting my body. I have no idea if I was the only one who ever felt that sensation, since no one else ever mentioned feeling the water so long after we left it. This book gave me that sensation. It made the ocean feel like home. It was able to make the loneliness and the pain feel so intensely real. More real than the waves ever were.

I had gotten the book, because of the cover. I saw a mermaid. That was all I really cared about. I had half read the description. Even fully reading the description after I have read the book doesn’t even come close to what this book provides. There is just so many feelings and so much pain. There is more pain than I ever expected seeing a mermaid on a cover of a book. The thing is, that is not a mermaid.

There is this really intense and slight romance or at the very least a friendship based on a weird compromise and understanding. It was something that I lived for. I couldn’t imagine life continuing after or without that connection. This book swallowed me whole. It made me feel every emotion and there was no respite. I felt as if I was the historian or going through the remembering. I knew nothing, but I also knew there was more and ached for more. Solomon is an amazing author. I just can’t explain in anything that resembles even a semblance of what I feel about this book and what it did to me. READ IT.

Listening to the song after reading the book, just is magical in a way that I have not experienced before. Yes, it is on Spotify and I may be listening to it on repeat while writing this. All of the feelings just won’t stop. I am destroyed.

This might just be the best book I have read this year or potentially ever. I just. So many feelings. I still feel them so intensely, its like I am still reading the book. I hope, like the waves, they subside after time. I feel so lost. I can’t imagine moving on from this story. It feels so real.

5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.

You can buy the book here.

~Isaiah