I found The Deep when looking for a book for Read Harder 2020 Task 2, read a retelling of a classic of canon, fairytale, or myth by an author of color. I have a thing about mermaids. I have always loved them. The Little Mermaid was my favorite story when I was a kid and that was before Disney redid it with a happy ending. I was actually pretty salty about them making it a happy ending for years. Of course, now I look back at what Disney was doing to all those princesses and I have to admit that it’s pretty awesome. All these cautionary tales to control female behavior turned on their heads with happy endings. Anyway, I can go on about that forever and it’s time to talk about The Deep and how amazing this retelling of the myth of mermaids is.
I love everything about this book. It took me a minute to get into the world, but I was absolutely hooked by the end of the first chapter. Yetu is the one who remembers their history so that everyone else can live happy lives, but this remembering is suffocating. The history of the Wajinru is full of the horrifying of the last few hundred years. It’s another perspective on the history that we’re taught in schools. It’s also a love story with the ocean and its inhabitants. The imagery is beautiful, the wording Solomon uses to describe human things is perfect.
The plot itself is fairly simple and I would say less of the story that Solomon is telling than the history of the Wajinru. Yetu’s struggle is understandable, as has any story where memory is an issue for only some of the characters. It begs the question whether it is better to remember the horrible things of history or to forget them and carry on as if they didn’t exist. But where would be and what would help us decide how to approach new peoples?
Above all, it was the dazzling imagery that made me love this novella most. The writing is just gorgeous. I am eternally grateful to the person on Goodreads that suggested this novella as an option for Read Harder this year. I loved every minute of it, even when it tore my heart out. Especially when it gave a beautiful new story to those who we know met horrifying and unforgivable ends.