I love me some good magical realism, as nebulous a genre as that is and this definitely falls into the “good” category. Unfortunately not as memorable as I’d like it to be, though I did read this at an interesting time (big family gathering + sad memorial service = not a lot of brain space for books).
Freshwater centers on a young Nigerian woman named Ada though in this story, even in her own body, she is not the sole protagonist. Emezi has given voice to the host of spirits, voices, and gods that live alongside her in her mind, always with one foot in the world of the beyond but unable to return to that, their true home. These levels of voices greet her at different stages her in life, as she is born and grows and leaves Nigeria for America, and goes to school and becomes an adult and endures the pain, trauma, and loss that come with life. Her selves protect her, take over and manipulate her body like a robot when she herself is unable to, but they also think they know what is best and control her when she would rather not be controlled. Freshwater is a story of mental health and agency and Emezi tells a story that winds and builds and was a step beyond anything I’d read before. It’s a beautiful book, and one I highly recommend. I don’t know how to tell you what it’s about but I definitely think you should read it.