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The Deep

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The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’ rap group Clipping.

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.

Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future,” The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting.

166 pages, Hardcover

First published November 5, 2019

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About the author

Rivers Solomon

16 books3,081 followers
Rivers Solomon writes about life in the margins, where they are much at home. They live on a small isle off the coast of the Eurasian continent.

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5 stars
6,965 (24%)
4 stars
11,144 (39%)
3 stars
7,359 (26%)
2 stars
2,051 (7%)
1 star
482 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,585 reviews
Profile Image for Kat.
260 reviews79.2k followers
March 24, 2020
this book was so small but had so much to take in!! i gotta think about it for a second for a final rating, but i will tell u that feelings are positive & y’all need to give this a try!
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews111k followers
February 4, 2020
I'll read any book that Rivers Solomon puts out because their ideas are always unique, creative, and poignant. While An Unkindness of Ghosts follows a more traditional narrative, The Deep reads more as an atmospheric and conceptual piece, which makes it harder for me to rate since I prefer the former. Considering Solomon's intentions with writing this novella, and how much I appreciate the allegory for intergenerational trauma in a mermaid fairytale, I'll round it up to 4 stars. I wish the story was more fleshed out into a full-length novel with a plot, but I understand that was not their goal. (Still... such smart ideas should be expanded!)
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,471 reviews9,382 followers
March 28, 2023
**3.5-stars rounded up**

What the heck did I just read?

This novella is so unique. There's an overriding feeling that comes from reading it that I cannot describe.

When I first finished The Deep, I was blown away, but also didn't really fully understand it. Newsflash, I still don't.

As far as content, I didn't retain much; just the feeling. It's too bad because it is such a different reading experience and I believe, from what I understand, the creation of this novella was quite unique as well.

Whilst reading, I was overwhelmed with feelings that I was being told some wise and ancient lore; something dug up from the deepest depths of a rich oral history.

The audiobook is a beautiful experience, even though I won't pretend to understand it all.

I do appreciate the creation of this story and I would even read it again, it's just a hard one to grasp.

Absolutely moving though, even if you don't fully understand why it is slowly ripping your heart out of your chest.

In short, I would need to read this again before I can provide more thoughts. Something I would most definitely be willing to do.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Saga Press, for sending me a copy to read and review.

I truly appreciate the opportunity!
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,839 reviews4,676 followers
July 22, 2020
Make sure that you listen to the song The Deep by clipping. as well as the group Drexciya.

How does a book under 200 pages stump me in terms of writing a review. I'm sitting here, at this moment, in my chair attempting to figure out how to summarize/express my feelings about this book. I think that it's probably going to take more than just a written review, but I'm going to try.

I liked to preface my thoughts by saying that if you only read this book as a fantastical "mermaid" tale and don't dig deep into the core of its purpose, this book will make no sense to you. It will feel nonsensical. It will feel as though you're sifting your way through pages of nonsensical ramblings set against the back drop of a mermaid tale. It's so much more. So if you didn't get it the first time around. I implore you to read it once more. Dig deep and try to see the connections.

The Deep explores so many themes that personally made me feel like this book was written for me. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the premise: pregnant women who were captured and made into slaves were thrown overboard during the transatlantic journey to the Americas and the Caribbean. These women then gave birth to children who turned into mermaids known as the Wajinru in this book. While the mermaid aspect of this book may be fantastical, the historical reference point of the massacring of slaves prior to reaching their final destination is true. This book specifically focuses on Yetu who is classified as the Historian. She carries the history of the "two-legs" and the Wajinru who came before her. The process is taxing and overbearing and Yetu wants nothing more than to quit. My first thought in reading this was related to the constant generational trauma that is inflicted on Black people. Our history is tricky. It's one that we aren't supposed to forget, yet it's one that is so traumatic that quite often we beg to forget, to be something other than this long history of pain and violence. I understood the need, the desire for Yetu to forget. Solomon takes this concept and RUNS with it. From that point forward we are exposed to a discussion related to the rebuilding of identity (Black people have had to build their culture from scratch because it was torn from us through the Transatlantic Slave Trade), gender identity (there are non-binary and lesbian characters), mental health (Yetu struggles with the trauma of the history which is closely related to the mental health of the Black community), the juxtaposition of how all Black people don't handle trauma the same, the importance of Oral traditions, collectivism vs. individuality (there were sections that reminded me of Rastafarianism and why the term of "I and I" is so important), and even ecological destruction.

After reading this book I literally sat down and just thought. How can such a small book address everything that I feel as one person? How can I feel so seen and so heard in a FANTASY book? I lost my great-grandmother almost two years ago now. She was the matriarch of my family. My great grandmother also couldn't read or write. Everything I know about my family, everything that I know about who I am and where I come from is through oral tradition. Like so many Black families, our history is documented or contained within history books. We've had to collectively carry our history and pass it down from generation to generation. Each one of us carrying the burden and passing it off to our offspring. But there is joy and beauty in the burden. I'm often reminded of J. Coles lyrics "there's beauty in the struggle." A lot of what we carry is pain, but a lot of what we carry is beauty and joy. We just have to remember to carry it together. I, like Yetu, know that we can't forget our history and where we come from because it's what ingrained in who we are right now, in this moment. You take away our history whether good, bad, or both and then who do we become? Who are we?

I could literally cry writing this review. This hands down is the best book I have read in a very long time and I won't stop screaming about how important it is to me and so many others. I hope that this review even makes sense. The emotional impact that it's had on me, the spiritual impact it's had on me is one that is very difficult to translate into words.

Profile Image for Erin .
1,214 reviews1,124 followers
October 7, 2019
Giveaway win!

5 Stars isn't enough!

Water dwelling creatures who are the descendants of African slave women.

How could I not read this book.

The Deep is filled with flowery poetic language that I normally hate. Flowery language often comes off sounding pretentious and it usually leaves me rolling my eyes. But that flowery type of language fits The Deep just perfectly.

The Deep is a modern day take on African folklore. The same folklore that was brought to America on slave ships and passed down to each new generation.

The Deep is strangely beautiful and a strikingly impactful story of coming to terms with the savage and barbaric history of slavery and the ability to move past that and find inner peace.

Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews154k followers
April 22, 2021
“What is belonging?” we ask.
She says, “Where loneliness ends.”
Yetu is the only one out of her mermaid tribe that knows their history.

Decades ago, pregnant African slave women were thrown into the ocean and their children are what formed Yetu's people.
The deep will be our sibling, our parent, our relief from endless solitude. Down here, we are wrapped up. Down here, we can pretend the dark is the black embrace of another.
The tragedy, so real and raw, even years later was deemed too much for those people to handle and thus all of the memories were bound up into one individual who will hold onto them until their untimely and early death.

And despite knowing how important Yetu is to her people, she decides that she can no longer endure.

She will find a way out from under the murk - one way or another.
When not properly fortified, a legacy is no more enduring than a wisp of plankton.
Ahhh... I'm not sure what to think.

I'm still on the ever-more elusive hunt for a wonderful and compelling mermaid book.

On the one hand, the concept caught me right away but on the other hand, I often found myself puzzled, lost or confused.

Much of the book had a spoken-history vibe to it - where we get fragments of stories, wisps of legends and a scattered narration throughout.

And while I liked that at the beginning, by the middle/end I was just frustrated with the lack of clarity.

There were so many incredible concepts introduced, interesting side-stories and more...and they were only told in snippets...leaving me feeling like the story was unfinished and I was left in the dark.

Also, and this may just be me, but I had some serious The Giver vibes with the whole collective-memory-in-exchange-for-a-functional-society thing. It kind of worked and kind of didn't.

All I know is that I'm still on the hunt for that truly excellent mermaid book.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Samantha.
409 reviews16.7k followers
July 6, 2020
This novella explores the themes of generational trauma, memory, belonging, and history using the folktale of the babies of African slaves thrown overboard turning into mermaids. This small book packs a big thematic punch.
Profile Image for Iben Frederiksen.
294 reviews167 followers
November 15, 2019
I have mixed feeling about The Deep by Rivers Solomon.

First, I LOVED the premise of a merpeople originating from pregnant african slaves being thrown overboard - it's what really drew me into reading to book.

The story however - not much happens and the pacing is very slow. Now this is not necessarily a problem to me, but coupled with a very vague worldbuilding and a very blank slated main character, whose perspective the story is told from, I ended up spending 6 days reading this 176 page novel.

I liked the historical part of the story, reading about the merpeople's origin, how they found a language and how their culture and society came to be. And I was very pleasently surprised to discover that this is a very LGBT friendly book (lesbian human/mermaid ship hell yeah). The writing was also really great.

If you want a different take on mermaids, then you should definitely give The Deep a chance.
Profile Image for Charlie Anders.
Author 145 books3,672 followers
January 21, 2019
Wow, this book is amazing. As a fan of Clipping and their Hugo-nominated song that this book is based on, I was already excited for this one---plus it's written by Rivers Solomon, author of An Unkindness of Ghosts. But wow, this book is intense. I won't give away any spoilers except to say that Yetu, the hero, is a unique character who is forced to make some tough choices to find herself, and ends up making a really beautiful and unexpected friendship as a result. I'm going to be thinking and dreaming about The Deep for a very long time. Yetu's journey kept surprising and inspiring me, even as it plunged into deeper and deeper waters that raise questions about identity and the weight of history. This is the strange, beautiful, transforming story that we all need in 2019. [Full disclosure: I received an early copy of this book for review purposes, and also Clipping vocalist Daveed Diggs kindly gave a quote for my novel The City in the Middle of the Night].
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,625 reviews5,070 followers
Shelved as 'try-again'
December 3, 2019
update: dec 3, 2019
I'm really sad about it, but I'm setting this aside at the 40% mark. It's such an incredible premise, but I'm not enjoying the actual writing much at all and I'm hoping it's just the mood that I'm in. I'll give it another try later and hopefully it'll work better for me.


I love mer-people, I love clipping., and I love every single speck of the premise for this. I need this SO BAD

(Also, if you haven't already, check out the song that inspired Rivers Solomon to write this)
Profile Image for may ➹.
471 reviews1,898 followers
June 12, 2020
- follows Yetu, who is a Historian and has to keep all of the history—intergenerational trauma and pain, essentially—of the wajinru, who are descendents of pregnant African slaves thrown overboard
- takes a bit to get into (I first listened to the audiobook then switched to ebook) but worth it to keep pushing through
- while it is about Yetu finding and discovering what her own identity is, separate from the trauma of her ancestors, it is also about the wajinru as a community. tackles what it means to come from a group of people whose history is full of pain, and what it means to share that pain with each other
- it also is about remembering trauma and history, and where you come from, and how that can hurt yet also heal at the same time
- also was not expecting a really beautiful f/f romance and I loved that! (the wajinru are also all intersex and choose their own gender, if any)
- overall, a harrowing yet beautiful, moving story. definitely recommended!

- bonus: audiobook is narrated by Daveed Diggs :o) (his band wrote a song that inspired Rivers Solomon to write this! highly recommend reading the author’s note at the end)


:: rep :: all-Black cast, sapphic Black intersex MC, sapphic Black LI, intersex characters, nonbinary side character

:: content warnings :: mentions of slavery/slave trade, suicide attempt, trauma, drowning
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
769 reviews1,147 followers
January 6, 2020
Of the nearly 12.5 million enslaved Africans who were transported to the Americas in the 16th - 19th centuries, it has been estimated that 1.8 million died en route, their bodies, some still alive, tossed overboard into the ocean.

The musical duo Drexciya began a modern myth about mysterious and beautiful ocean creatures who were descended from those Africans who had been thrown overboard during the African holocaust. Forced to endure horrific treatment, starvation, and suffocating quarters, many became ill. The slave traders would then cruelly toss them overboard rather than "waste" any food resources on them, allowing these stolen people to drown in the vast ocean if they were still alive.

Drexciya's story wonders what if some of the unborn babies of pregnant women had survived after their mothers were thrown to their deaths. What if these infants who had yet to take a breath of air into their still-forming lungs had been birthed in the ocean and survived? 

In The Deep Rivers Solomon expands on this story.  Because the memories of their murdered ancestors are so painful to contemplate, only one member of the Wajinru holds all the memories for the others. This is always a highly sensitive individual and Yetu is more sensitive than most. This is her story and the story of the Wajinru. 

At times I was in love with this book. Rivers Solomon writes the most exquisite prose. Their words are music; like water, their words flow all around and immerse you in them. Their words are raw and haunting and beautiful.

The story asks the questions: Who are we without our memories? Who are without a past? Who are we without our ancestors and their stories? Yetu longs to leave behind the memories of her ancestors in order to leave behind their pain. Then she meets Oori, a "two-legger" land dweller who is the last of her people and who is despondent that she knows so little of their past. The reader is left to ponder if it is worthwhile to hold on to painful memories and if there is a way to balance the act of remembering so that one can have a past without being consumed by it.

Unfortunately, just as I would get most into the book, it would jump to other characters or to some time in the future, leaving me wondering each time where I was. I almost felt like I was flailing about, lost in water. Perhaps this was Solomon's intent. If so, they did it very well. It was frustrating for me the reader though and prevents me from giving the book 5 stars. 

The Deep is a haunting and beautiful story, tragic and hopeful at once. 
Profile Image for Nataliya.
727 reviews11.6k followers
September 3, 2020
“What is belonging?” we ask.
She says, “Where loneliness ends.”

It’s a captivating book, atmospheric and sensual and at times a bit overwhelming. I did not like it for quite a few pages, but then somehow, a third in or so, realized that it had me entranced despite the nagging mixed feelings and reservations and the fact that it took me three days (!) to finish this slim novella.

The premise is beautiful and sad — but yet strongly life-affirming. Wajinru are the descendants of the pregnant women thrown overboard from the slave ships. The mothers drowned, but their children while still in the womb were embraced by the ocean and learned to breathe water, and adapted to the waters of the deep, and were transformed into ocean creatures. From death and destruction came life.
“The deep will be our sibling, our parent, our relief from endless solitude. Down here, we are wrapped up. Down here, we can pretend the dark is the black embrace of another.“

Eventually they found each other, and formed a society, and learned of the horrors that led to the emergence of wajinru. The pain of the memories and the anger were such that decision was made for only one of them - the Historian - to hold all the Remembrances, while the rest could live up encumbered by the weight of History, only receiving the memories from the Historian once a year for a few days, to remind them who they are. But only a few days — any longer can lead to catastrophe as they would be trapped in memories of grief, unable to process them, unable to recover.
“One can only go for so long without asking who am I? Where do I come from? What does all this mean? What is being? What came before me, and what might come after? Without answers, there is only a hole, a hole where a history should be that takes the shape of an endless longing. We are cavities.”

Once upon a time, one of the first wajinru met a “two-legs” woman, recognized the kinship and learned language, identity and love — but that love was lost. Later on, others have seen the cruelty of two-legs and the resultant anger was all-consuming.

Now the Historian is Yetu, who longs to be free from the weight of pain and death and grief in the memories that are her burden to carry. The memories are destroying her, mentally and physically. “With each passing year, she was less and less able to distinguish rememberings from the present.” Driven by the need to survive, she flees — and, hurt and trapped, meets Oori, a human who is the last of her people. And now, vulnerable and far away wajinru, Yetu begins to confront the issues of identity, of loneliness, of belonging.
“It still pleased her that she could do that, that it was possible to have her mind to herself. Without the History devouring the whole of her mind, she had an inkling of who she was. She didn’t have answers yet, but she had questions, endless questions. And worries, and concerns. But they were hers.”

The questions and thoughts that this story evokes are those eternal ones, that do not diminish with time or experience. What forms your identity? What makes you who you are? How much is your sense of self and identity tied to those who came before you? How much do you owe to your assessors? When should you leave the past and start anew? Can you justify one person’s sacrifice for the good of the greater whole?
“She wasn’t used to speaking so freely about her wants and needs. She wasn’t used to having wants and needs of her own at all. It had always been a battle between what the wajinru needed, what the ancestors needed, and what she needed. A single lonely girl, her own needs never won.”

So why the reservations and the mixed feelings then? There is not much plot, really. It’s more of introspective narration and musings interspersed with bits and snippets of memories and stories. It sags and stutters in places, veers into the melodramatic and sometimes overwrought. And the ending is just too easy.

And my personal jarring moment that completely took me out of the story - just one line, incongruent with the rest of the narration — the inner monologue line “Was such a thing passed down in DNA?”. Please, do not throw the reader out of the story by mentioning DNA, clearly not a wajinru concept, wajinru who refer to humans as “two-legs”. Minor, but irritating nevertheless. (Replace DNA with “blood” and it suddenly reads less jarring. Where were you, editors?)

So overall I give it 3.5 stars. I may round up eventually, if it still has me thinking about it in a few days.
“Forgetting was not the same as healing.”


My Hugo and Nebula Awards Reading Project 2020: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
623 reviews1,925 followers
February 12, 2021
↣ Highly recommend if you are looking for a relatively short urban fantasy about mermaids with underlying themes of trauma, belonging, climate change, gender identity, ++ it's packed... while seamlessly weaving it into an endearing plot. Especially one that you get through quickly with a slightly darker tone.

content warnings//

I didn't like my review so I deleted it and I feel like other reviews gave this more justice than I did so! :D

“But Yetu wanted to remember how she remembered, with screams. She had no wish to transform trauma to performance. To parade what she’d come to think of as her own tragedies for entertainment.”
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
655 reviews3,854 followers
May 21, 2020
“Forgetting was not the same as healing.”

really impactful story about collective memory and trauma and trying to unravel the responsibility of the individual to the collective. I really like speculative fiction and this has such a good premise (the children of pregnant women thrown overboard during the transatlantic slave trade became mermaids) I loved the authors note about how this book came around and the collaboration across multiple creative platforms, really interesting.

Yetu was a sympathetic and her role as the historian led to some really interesting discussions around psychology and the burden/trauma of remembering versus the liberation and relief of knowing and feeling connected to your identity and heritage. I really liked her discussions with Ori centring on this theme.

This felt thematically rich and explores so many issues around culture, history, life and identity in such a short period. It's also wonderfully queer. There were a few parts where the POV shifts confused me (could be due to the audiobook rather than the writing) but overall I really liked this
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
Shelved as 'on-my-shelf'
February 2, 2023
when you fail to read a book by a favorite author for over four years it is a law of the universe that you must be assigned it for class
Profile Image for Tyler J Gray.
Author 2 books213 followers
January 21, 2020
This story hit me hard from the very beginning. I was so angry at the Wajinru for putting the burden of their entire history all on Yetu's shoulders. All alone, in so much pain, pain they should have been sharing together rather than dumping it all on Yetu and it was killing her, literally. As the story progressed though I understood why they did it. I felt so much for Yetu. At times I related to certain things from being disabled, neuro-divergent and a rather sensitive INFP. I just wanted to hug Yetu and scream at the rest of the Wajinru that they were killing Yetu and didn't even seem to notice.

The writing flowed and sucked me in. The book may be short but it packs a powerful punch and has so much weaved within it I can't believe it's short. No sentence felt wasted, everything important. It is a complex story with several layers but I was never confused by it. Though I think I might have been if I had read it too fast rather than taking my time with it as I did.

It has themes of being oneself, of being a part of a group and having a group history, of kinship, trauma, climate change. I'm sure there is even stuff I missed. It has powerful messages wrapped in a fantasy story with merfolk. I loved learning about the Wajinru and how they worked. I loved the arc the story went on as well as Yetu's character arc. I may have been angry for much of the story but it ends on hope and so beautifully, the ending had me sobbing. It moved me and it made me think. I had to put it down sometimes to really digest it as well as calm myself down. I enjoyed the hint of romance. I'd gladly read more from this world and these characters.

If you pick up this book please read the afterwords about how this book came to be. It's inspired by This song.


"Forgetting was not the same as healing"

"That mattered. Who each of them was mattered as much as who all of them were together."

As my ass is white and this centers black people i'd like to direct you to a couple of reviews by black people: ONYX Pages and The Artisan Geek.

Review can also be found on my blog Here.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
558 reviews3,845 followers
June 20, 2021
Este es uno de esos libros para releer.
Se trata de una novela corta que habla de la importancia de recordar nuestro pasado, de nuestra identidad, de la importancia de la comunidad y del sentimiento de pertenencia. Me ha parecido un libro muy poético y especialmente relevante.
Yetu es una historiadora obligada a recordar y vivir una y mil veces el pasado de su pueblo y su origen, ella, y el resto de sirenas son descendientes de las mujeres embarazadas que se lanzaban al mar desde los barcos esclavistas por ser una carga molesta o enferma. A través de Yetu conocemos el momento en que nacen las wajinru, en el que se crea esta fascinante comunidad, su manera de relacionarse y de entenderse y la dureza de la vida para Yetu, que deber recordar una y otra vez estos espantosos momentos, ¿Pero es el olvido la solución?
Eso tendréis que descubrirlo al leer 'En las profundidades'.
Como decía al principio, un libro para releer, y de esos que dejan poso. Tan solo el final me dejó algo fría, pero eso no empaña lo interesante y reflexivo que me ha parecido esta novela.

***La nota al final del libro es importante: "Descubrir los nombres de todas las personas que fallecieron esclavizadas es una tarea ardua, casi imposible. Con 'En las profundidades' queremos rendir homenaje a las casi dos millones de almas que perecieron en el Atlántico tras ser secuestradas de su hogar"
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,205 followers
Want to read
March 13, 2020
so short it makes me want to finish it in an hour
Profile Image for Mara.
1,508 reviews3,669 followers
April 16, 2020
3.5 stars -- I'm so conflicted here, because I really enjoyed the characters, writing, & thematic content of this one. It's a book I certainly recommend, as it reminded me of a fascinating take on a "The Giver" type story. The problem I had is that the disparate parts didn't quite come together for me into a fully realized book. I think probably it should have been either shorter or longer, but there's something about the various components that aren't wholly cohesive. That said, I enjoyed my time with it despite that critique & I would read more from this author
Profile Image for ♛ may.
805 reviews3,775 followers
July 28, 2020

this was incredible, the story, the emotion, the setting, the narration and the storytelling was absolutely masterful.

wow, i really enjoyed this.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
469 reviews650 followers
November 4, 2019
I struggled with this one a bit. I wasn't sure what to expect after reading the synopsis. Anyone looking for a fantastical black mermaid tale should be warned that this is not that.

I commend the book for mentioning a part of history that often gets overlooked. Yes we know about the Middle Passage and slavery but when discussing the horrors of the journey we don't think about the slaves tossed overboard during the journey. In this story after being tossed overboard the pregnant slaves babies end up surviving having been born with fins giving them a second chance at life.

I did like the parts about them creating their own society and thriving under the sea. Yetu being the historian has the job of educating her people about their past. She guides us through the traumatic history of her people and at times it's very repetitive and overwhelming. The pacing is painfully slow at times especially for a novella. Overall this is a story about survival and the importance of remembering your history no matter how painful it may be.
Profile Image for Mary Robinette Kowal.
Author 234 books4,752 followers
December 10, 2019
The Deep by Rivers Solomon is a short fresh take on mermaids -- and I hesitate to say "mermaids" because the wajinru are very much their own thing. It's filled with beautiful language and an interesting exploration of the relationship between memory and self and community.
Profile Image for Joey.
219 reviews82 followers
February 15, 2020
/2.5 stars/

This has been another round of Joey dashing into a book too fast and missing the ‘lgbt’ label. 🤦‍♂️
But yeah. That’s always fuuuun.

I didn’t hate it. I promise, I really didn’t. I’m not gonna do a typical review here, I’m just gonna share some thoughts and then do content.

1) There is no freaking way I’m trying to spell the names cuz i listened to the audio.

2) There were weird undertones of like... evolution/new age/ humanism, which was just weird.

3) I loved the writing. ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS.

4) did the mermaids (ik Ik but like i said I’m not trying to spell the actual name rn) have to be able to determine their own gender? Cause I’m sorry, but that’s not how it works.

5) the remembering were basically meditation? Huh. Weird.

6) the characters were a bit non relatable but the writing was gorgeous as I said so it made up for that 😂


basically no language. There was one outburst where someone used God’s name in vain three times in a row.

Yetu (pls tell me that’s right) falls in love with a female human. Yetu is a girl. I guess. It’s hard to explain and overly weird but I guess it didn’t bother me a ton just bc it was kinda like Yetu could be either gender i guess? Which was still bad but Idek at this point.
One VERY awkward dialogue about sexual reproduction between Yetu and Ari(?).


Profile Image for Holly.
1,414 reviews960 followers
December 23, 2019
3.5 stars

This was a really interesting/upsetting/disturbing/wonderful premise - all the pregnant women that were held in slavery on ships and tossed overboard to drown, their babies were kept alive by the ocean by turning them into a new race of mermaid-like people. This new species then develops a culture that focuses on letting go of their past. In fact, they have a designated person, the historian, who is responsible for holding their memories/history, and that person is the protagonist of the story. It's a lot to think about. However, I am not sure the actual storytelling was quite as enthralling as the idea of the story, but it's still worth a read/listen.
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,048 reviews13k followers
June 15, 2020
I really do not think the audiobook is the way to go with this one, which is the format I read this in. I was excited for the premise about mermaids who are created from the African slaves that were thrown overboard during the slave trade. The premise was so unique and interesting. There was one character who held all of the memories of her race and discussed how much of a burden that job was.

However, the story itself was really hard to get into and the plot jumped around and was hard for me to follow. I wasn't sure what the purpose really was or where anything was going. I wish there was more of a narrative and a story. There was a lot packed in here, but as a complete story, it did not hold my attention or make me want to keep reading.
Profile Image for Constantine.
809 reviews128 followers
May 22, 2021
Rating: Good

Genre: Fantasy

Yetu is an African mermaid, a historian who stores the memories for her people. These are the descendants of African slave women and they are living in the deep as mermaids. Yetu holds for them all their painful past and her duty is to make them remember all that. The problem is that Yetu finds herself unable to cope with these horrible and traumatic memories so she escapes to the surface trying to get away from all of her responsibilities.

The story has an amazing concept. Yes, sometimes things were getting repetitive but I like how symbolic is this novella about what we are still fighting for today, the right to be treated equally and fairly. I feel if the pacing has been adjusted a bit it would have made wonders. It felt slow for me, and that should not be the case when you read a novella. This is a poignant story so don’t expect happy times or happy mermaidy stuff because it is more serious than it might sound. I can’t call the book entertaining because that is not the goal from reading it but it definitely tackles a lot of important and relevant subjects like identity, sexuality, gender, and racism. I also feel that you have to be mentally ready for it to appreciate it fully. I wish it would have held my full attention though. Overall, it was good.
Profile Image for Elle.
584 reviews1,295 followers
November 10, 2019
Incredibly compelling premise, genre-bending to the point where I’m not sure that the one it was nominated in, Best Science Fiction, is the most fitting. While books centered around slavery in America but reimagined with a magical aspect have primarily fallen into the historical category, such as 2019 Best Historical Fiction nominee The Water Dancer and 2016 winner The Underground Railroad, The Deep utilizes the Trans-Atlantic slave trade as a jumping off point before delving into a full-fledged fantasy world.

For those unfamiliar, this novella (less than 200 pages) is based off of a song by the musical group clipping. called The Deep. The three names after the author, Rivers Solomon, are the members of the band: Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes. I’m not sure the extent of their contribution to the actual writing or the story as a whole, but they’re credited on the cover, so it must be somewhat significant.

I listened to the song before reading, and I still found the start of the book very abrupt, so I can only imagine what a person going in blindly would think. It’s written well, if a bit repetitive. Nothing is so complex that it needs to be repeated multiple times; once you get your bearings the story is not difficult to follow. I would have loved to explore the lore a bit more, but there’s only so far you can go in 170-odd pages. What the author does really well is explore the idea of shared history, memories, pain. It’s a complete arc and ends in a very moving crescendo. I liked it overall, very thought-provoking and full of life.
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