Memory of Water

Author: 
Emmi Itaranta
Blurb: 
With the lyricism of Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, and the world building brilliance of Atwood, Emmi Itäranta’s effortless and poignant debut novel is a coming of age story full of emotional drama and wonderment. 'Where Itaranta shines is in her understated but compelling characters' Red star review, Publishers Weekly. Some secrets demand betrayal. 'You’re seventeen, and of age now, and therefore old enough to understand what I’m going to tell you,’ my father said. ‘This place doesn’t exist.’ ‘I’ll remember,’ I told him, but didn’t realise until later what kind of promise I had made. When Noria Kaitio reaches her seventeenth birthday, she is entrusted with the secret of a freshwater spring hidden deep within the caves near her small rural village. Its preservation has been the responsibility of her family for generations. Apprenticed to her father, one of the last true tea masters, when Noria takes possession of the knowledge, she become much more than the guardian of ancestral treasure; soon, she will hold the fate of everyone she loves in her hands.
A very pale woman with blue eyes and long blonde hair, looking directly ahead.
Representation
Some information on the characters in the book.
Female protagonist: 
Yes
Protagonist of Colour: 
No
Queer relationship: 
Yes
LBGT protagonist: 
Lesbian
Disabled protagonist: 
No
Publication
Some basic information about when and where the book was published.
Publishing date: 
2014
ISBN: 
9780007529919
Publisher: 
Harper Voyager
Comments

Comments

An important note: I listed this as "lesbian characters, lesbian relationship" but this relationship is so covert it's only just this side of subtext. It's also beautifully written, and the key force driving the plot, so I think it deserved mention.

I liked the book a lot - "memory of water" isn't just a nice phrase, but a major part of our main character's philosophy. Itaranta does interesting things with the idea of memories and texts and how a complete global collapse of the world would change the way we see written records - not a new concept in speculative fiction but one that she uses in lovely ways that work well with these characters and the setting. Our main character, Noria, is very convincingly the kind of person that actually spends time pondering these questions, and it makes the narration beautiful and lyrical without ever seeming overwrought. I really enjoyed it.

Her perspective is also very refreshing: Noria lives in a position of very sheltered privilege in a world of scarcity and desparation, and that privilege is shown very sharply. It's a very honest, smart story, and I'll be keeping an eye out for more writing from this author.

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