The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish by Katya Apekina
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm finally back to this book after including it in a book speed dating episode of the podcast last November. It had been long enough that I started over from the beginning.
It is difficult to express how much this book will suck you in, and how good it is, and then to remember it is a debut! I can't wait to see what she does next.
Marianne is the single mother of two girls - Edie (16) and Mae (14.) After the older daughter saves her mother from a suicide attempt, both girls go live with the father they've never known in New York. The chapters rotate between characters, and at first that's just the daughters and mother. But as more characters come into the story, they start getting added to the mix, sometimes before you understand the role they play. I love alternating narratives, and enjoyed the spin the author took on them in this case. Most of those point-of-view chapters are in the time period of the suicide attempt but occasionally there will be artifacts from the past, like a letter, newspaper article, or psychiatrist notes from an earlier time (the 1960s when their parents met, or the 1980s when the mother had her first psychotic break.) And then an even more occasional chapter comes from someone in the present day rather than the 1990s where most of the novel takes place, adding some perspective as an adult.
I think part of what I liked about this novel is that I didn't always know where it was going. You think it's a story about one thing and one set of characters but it changes as it goes on, and the additional information you get as a reader adds a spin to what you thought you knew.
I appreciated how the daughters have had such different experiences with their mother, despite the very close age difference. This is an important and well-observed distinction that matters from the first page to the last. This gave them reasons to want different things and to act entirely different from one another.
Just excellent and scratches that itch I've had since Black Wave, although in subtler ways.
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