Review: Saltwater, Jessica Andrews

I’ve spent the past week posting my pictures and thoughts on Jessica Andrews’ stunning debut Saltwater and I guess it’s about time that I share the love and explain exactly why I loved this lyrical and fragmented book so much.

Written in short, sharp and intense paragraphs, Saltwater follows Lucy as she leaves her home in Sunderland to go to university in London and then later moves to her grandfather’s home on the west coast of Ireland. At the same time, Andrews weaves in narratives from her mother and grandparents, building a portrait of motherhood, family roots, longing and alienation.

This book really moved me. I felt it in my core, frantically devouring it on the train to work, feeling in my bones that I too did not suit living in London and should move to rural Ireland to really understand the world around me and who I am. Andrews’ style is arresting and unique. She has a wonderful way of making astute and moving observations in such short fragments. Her writing is beautiful and broken and captures the world in a unique and memorable way.

My only criticism would be that I felt the novel should be slightly shorter. with such a short and emphatic format, I wondered if it could be even more powerful with around a third or so less. Not that i didn’t enjoy reading more of Andrews’ wonderful prose.

It might sound weird but the protagonist Lucy’s way of seeing the world seemed wholly feminine. I loved following her journey to defy gender and class and build a life for herself at the end of the world. It was familiar but distinctive. I saw myself in Lucy and then I saw her diverge into somebody of her own. Please, if you are a young woman – read Saltwater and let me know what you think.

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