Reviewed by Bethany Kelly
Have you ever encountered a book that changed your world view? Have you ever read something that made you think of things in a whole new light? One that you got so engrossed in, you forgot to do anything else but keep reading so you could see how it ended? What the Waves Know by Tamara Valentine was that type of book for me. I was literally through 90% of this book in one day. I only stopped reading when I needed to eat, take care of my kiddos, and when my husband said it was time for us to go to bed. Then, I woke up the next morning, and finished it before the kiddos woke up for the day.
On Tillings Island, Izabella (Iz) Haywood is supposed to be celebrating her 6th birthday, but instead her father leaves, taking her voice with him. After moving to the mainland, her mother takes her to see multiple psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers to try to help her daughter come out of her silence. However, after eight years and no progress, Iz’s mother decides to take her back to the place where she lost her voice—Tillings Island. This begins a journey that will help Iz piece together the events of that night, and find herself – and her voice – again.
Unfortunately, when you go to a place where everyone seems to know details about your life and your family that you don’t, things can get complicated. As the annual Yemaya festival is in full swing on Tillings Island, Iz will have to face the truth of that night, or risk losing herself and the future she could have, for good.
I absolutely loved this novel. I loved that it was completely in Iz’s perspective. The author did a fantastic job keeping it in the voice of a fourteen year old, even when she was recounting memories from her first six years of life. I also liked the fact that by keeping it completely in the perspective of Iz, I found out what happened that night at the same time that she did. It is the type of book you can get lost in!
I also loved the story behind Yemaya and the magic in the world, as seen through the eyes of a child. This book will not only make you laugh and cry in the vicinity of a few pages, but it will also make you question how society thinks we should handle loss.
I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone, and will most definitely be reading it again.
Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.