WHAT THE WAVES KNOW by Tamara Valentine


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In a novel rich in mythology and childhood secrets, a girl searches for her voice in the Rhode Island town where she stopped speaking at age 6.

Eight years after her father disappeared on her birthday, Izabella Haywood is still writing on notepads to avoid speaking the truth about what happened. Inside her head we catch glimpses of a creative but troubled man who hunts for fairies late at night, who fights with Izabella’s mother constantly, and who ultimately leaves his daughter and wife behind. Viewed through the lens of a child who was too young to understand what she saw that night, the question of why is especially poignant—and the answer is hidden in plain sight. The book is mostly set in the summer of 1974, and its historical details, such as an outdated film title on a marquee, gently place Izabella's memories in a not-too-distant past where missing persons make the nightly news. For Izabella, the truth might still be lying around the house if she knows where to look. On Tillings Island, the locals are preparing for their annual festival to celebrate the African ocean goddess Yemaya, and the loose spirituality that permeates the community echoes the dreamlike quality of Izabella’s thoughts. But normalcy beckons to Izabella as she reconnects with Grandma Jo, whose braless joie de vivre presents a cheerful foil to the cold war brewing between Izabella and her mother. The family dog, Luke, also whimpers and nuzzles his way through Izabella’s silence with surprising force. When the truth finally emerges, Izabella’s heartfelt revelation puts sharply into focus the unspoken terror of being a child in an unpredictable world.

This dreamy coming-of-age mystery unfolds in tantalizing waves with keen insight and lush prose.

Pub Date: Feb. 9th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-06-241385-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2015


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