Everything Solomon writes is pure gold. I was absolutely stunned and in love with An Unkindness of Ghosts and it’s no different with The Deep. Introspective and emotional, The Deep asks questions about memory, the community versus the individual, and more.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the Bookish First. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
The Deep encompasses my deep love for the work of Rivers Solomon plus my fascination of mermaids. I can’t think of a better combination. From the summary alone I fell in love – the concept of a people forgetting their history, except for one person. There’s something inexplicably moving. To be without our past, but one person burdened with the memories. Yetu is the Historian and is forced to relive her pain for their memories that they cannot hold.
It’s the responsibility of carrying your people’s past. Reliving those moments of trauma, sadness, guilt, and pain under your skin. Roaring in your mind and threatening to take over at a moments notice. When we forget our past, their struggles, and their scars. The Deep examines Yetu’s personal journey as she seeks to escape the burden of the collective past which she shoulders alone. Interspersed with memories, The Deep is an experience that makes it feel like we are living these moments ourselves as they are brought to life.
What does kinship and community mean? Is it duty and obligation? Support and solidarity? When just one person remembers the trauma of the past, is forced to re-member it, how can the community move forwards without the past? We know who we are because of the memories within us, except Yetu is full of the immeasurable pain from the grief, sorrow, and happiness. And when our memories are robbed from us, taken away without a shred of evidence, what wouldn’t we sacrifice for a chance at those fragments?
The Deep asks us if there’s a middle ground. A solution to take the all encompassing weight off our shoulders without letting the memories die. It’s deeply introspective, while also being poignant and hopeful. Find The Deep on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.