Rating: 4.5 / 5
THE DEEP by Rivers Solomon has been on my list since it first came out, but I only recently ordered a copy. When paranormal/magical realism came up a a prompt during a recent readathon, this seemed like a perfect pick (it did help knowing it was on the short side and therefore would be quick for a readathon too).
THE DEEP sets forth a world where the pregnant slaves who were thrown overboard in transit to the U.S. gave birth to a new water-breathing people. They have developed the ability to forget their past, but a select few are born with the ability to absorb all of their past history and the knowledge of how they came to be who they are.
Yetu is one of these people, tasked with holding all of the memories of her entire community, both the good and the bad. At set times during the year she must come to her people and share the memories. At the end of these sessions Yetu must again collect back all the memories so her people can go back to their lives without the pain of how they came into being. The remembering is painful and Yetu rebels against it, escaping her society to seek out a different life above and in turn must find a way to marry her knowledge of those above and those below.
I wound up really loving THE DEEP and found it to be a dark, but moving story. For such a short novel, Rivers Solomon manages to develop a rich new world including details like how Yetu and her people communicate through the water. Yetu’s remembering of the trauma of the slaves being thrown overboard to their death is both horrifying and also beautifully written as something wonderful comes out of the destruction.
I listened to the audiobook for this one while I was reading along and I think that was a great way to go. The audio was fantastic! The narrator is Daveed Diggs, vocalist of the experimental rap group clipping who produced the song “The Deep” which gave Rivers Solomon the inspiration to write their novel. There is a lot packed into this short novel to grab onto, so I think having the written words to focus on helped as well!
Reading THE DEEP was a wonderful experience and I recommend you pick it up!