Thursday 30 January 2020
Review: The Deep - Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes
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.
Visit Rivers Solomon's website for more information
It's not often that I read a book as powerful as The Deep and I've struggled for a long time to write this review because honestly I just don't have the right words to do it justice. Rivers Solomon tackles such emotive and heartbreaking topics in this story where descendants of African women, who were often heavily pregnant at the time, were throw overboard from the slave ships and left to drown but some of them actually survived and went on to create their own underwater utopian society. As a people they have a past full of trauma and to save themselves from constantly reliving the pain of their ancestors they choose one of their members to become the historian.
Yetu is the current historian and that means she holds the memories of her entire people so that the rest of the Wajinru can live their lives in peace. Once a year a ceremony called The Remembering is held so that the others can briefly experience the memories but the rest of the time Yetu alone is responsible for shouldering the heavy burden. These memories are painful and Yetu is constantly reliving the traumatic events her ancestors experienced so it's no wonder her own mental health is suffering.
I honestly don't want to say any more about what happens to Yetu during the story so I'm going to focus on how powerful the writing was and how quickly I was drawn into this world. I think it's so important to think about how racial history can leave a very real emotional toll for generations but also how important that cultural identity is for people to feel a connection with their past. Yetu lives with very real and damaging memories of Wajinru who lost their lives after years of suffering but she also remembers all the good things they experienced too which helps balance out the story and leaves you with a sense of hope.
Rivers Solomon was inspired to write this story after listening to the song The Deep written by David Diggs and his rap group Clipping. You can listen to the song on YouTube and I'd highly recommend it because it really sets the tone for the story.
Source: Received from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
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