Reviews of Tides by Sara Freeman

Tides

by Sara Freeman

Tides by Sara Freeman X
Tides by Sara Freeman
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Jan 2022, 256 pages

    Paperback:
    Jan 17, 2023, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Tasneem Pocketwala
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About this Book

Book Summary

An intoxicating, compact debut novel by the winner of Columbia's Henfield Prize, Tides is an astoundingly powerful portrait of a deeply unpredictable woman who walks out of her life and washes up in a seaside town.

After a sudden, devastating loss, Mara flees her family and ends up adrift in a wealthy seaside town with a dead cellphone and barely any money. Mired in her grief, Mara detaches from the outside world and spends her days of self-imposed exile scrounging for food and swimming in the night ocean. In her state of emotional extremis, the sea at the town's edge is rendered bleak, luminous, implacable.

As her money runs out and tourist season comes to a close, Mara finds a job at the local wine store. There, she meets Simon, the shop's soft-spoken, lonely owner. Confronted with the possibility of connection with Simon and the slow return of her desires and appetites, the reasons for her flight begin to emerge.

Reminiscent of works by Rachel Cusk, Jenny Offill, and Marguerite Duras, Tides is a spare, visceral debut novel about the nature of selfhood, intimacy, and the private narratives that shape our lives. A shattering and unforgettable debut.

Excerpt
Tides

On the long bus journey out, she doesn't cry or even have a single thought that she can name. She watches the dark impossibility of the road instead, the mostly empty seats ahead of her, the head of a woman a few rows up, listing forward and then jolting back. She does not sleep. She wants to be awake to make her declaration at the border. She will show her passport and when they ask, Where to? she will say without hesitation, The sea.

She does not have to leave. No one says: You must go. No clothes thrown out the window, no eviction notice. Her husband is already gone by then; she was the one to tell him that he had to go. She could say it was the baby – her brother's and his wife's. His sweet squawking through the open window in the apartment beneath hers. She could no longer live in this fixed way: their joy so firmly lodged beneath her grief. She could say that.

The motel advertises an ocean breeze but is nowhere near the beach. She waits in the small room, ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Freeman doesn't meditate over grief and bereavement by delivering heavy, prosaic or descriptive reflections. Instead, there is action. Mara arrives at a wealthy seaside town with a few dollars in her pocket, very few clothes, a dead phone and no real plan. We are taken on her journey as she figures out what to do with herself. The novel unravels as Mara's psyche also unravels before us, bit by bit, evenly at first, and then with gentle momentum, much like a surprise wave tiding over the beach, higher than we expected it to be. The book is a lyrically charged, stirring exploration of selfhood and what it means to try to escape from it...continued

Full Review Members Only (557 words).

(Reviewed by Tasneem Pocketwala).

Media Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
[B]eautiful and translucent. Mirroring the ebb and flow of water, short paragraphs leave lots of empty spaces on the page, enhancing the emotional gut punches latent in the text, while moments of heightened action run uninterrupted.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
An emotionally charged story of wanderlust and longing unfolds in Freeman's captivating debut...With an intricate narrative and in deceptively simple language, Freeman captures the full extent of loss. Complicated and enchanting, this prismatic examination of emotional endurance is a winner.

Kirkus Reviews
[B]eautiful and translucent. Mirroring the ebb and flow of water, short paragraphs leave lots of empty spaces on the page, enhancing the emotional gut punches latent in the text, while moments of heightened action run uninterrupted.

Author Blurb Emma Cline
Brilliant, elegant, and unsparing. Tides is a lyrical meditation on selfhood: Sara Freeman illuminates, with a poet's eye, the shifting interior landscape of a woman adrift.

Author Blurb Jamie Quatro
I read Tides in two voracious sittings, thrilled by the push-pull of Sara Freeman's prose: the tightly-controlled surface lyricism barely containing the violent upheaval beneath. Freeman inhabits the mind of her nearly-unhinged narrator so fully that the reader comes to understand — and even identify with — the sometimes twisted logic of grief and unmet longing. Who are we, as women, apart from the ones we love, or try to love? A beautiful, painfully prescient debut from a wildly talented new writer.

Reader Reviews

Janelle

Beautiful
Sara Freeman portrays an emotional and natural flow of work in this book, it is indeed a really beautiful book which is simple and open to understand. And also gives insight on love and independence.

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Beyond the Book

Feminism and Water Imagery in Literature

Feminism and water imagery books (top to bottom): Margaret Atwood's Surfacing, Toni Morrison's Beloved, Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things In Sara Freeman's debut novel Tides, after undergoing a harrowing loss, the protagonist Mara takes to the road, leaving everything and everyone she loves behind. She doesn't know where she will go, but if asked, she knows she will say, "without hesitation, [t]he sea." She is drawn to a town — any town — by the sea because her mother hails from such a place. For Mara, the sea is the origin point of her "self."

According to literary theorist Dr. Viola Parente-Čapková, in many cultures, water "has been traditionally connected with life, birth and re-birth, creation and creativity, but also with death and oblivion." In literature, water appears as a vital life force to be reckoned with (such as in Homer's Odyssey); ...

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