Mermaids with a Dark Past

The Deep by Rivers Solomon is a book that I’m mad I didn’t hear about sooner. Inspired by a song from Clipping for the “We Are In The Future” of This American Life (I had never heard of it before, blame me being British), this book follows the water-breathing descendants of African enslaved women who were tossed overboard from ships. They have built up their own society deep beneath the waves, but they don’t interact with their past. One individual holds all of the memories for their people, and we follow Yetu as she tries to cope with these traumatic memories invading her head since she was young.

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This is a short story, at only 166 pages, but it packs a heck of a punch. Talking in an indirect way about the intergenerational trauma that Black people in the US face and how this can weigh too heavily on one individual.

Yetu, our protagonist, is just a young girl and yet the Wajinru have made her become the holder of all of these memories. She can feel them inside of her at all times and it hurts. I enjoyed seeing Yetu coming to find herself, with this being done surprisingly in depth considering the short length of the book.

I also really liked lots of the small details, like the Wajinru speaking using vibrations and scales rather than above-surface methods that you can figure out all too easily wouldn’t work if you stick your head under water and try to talk. The way in which the Wajinru came to be is also explored, I love the story of survival and how within the realms of fantasy it could actually make sense.

All in all this was an amazing book and one I urge you to pick up. It was a clear five stars for me and I look forward to reading more from Rivers Solomon and seeing what else they publish!

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