What if the babies in pregnant slaves that were thrown overboard, turned into a type of merpeople? What if, instead of dying in a watery grave, they became mythical creatures? This is what Rivers Solomon’s world is about. And it’s beautiful and sorrowful and hopeful.
The main character of this book is Yetu, they are the Historian of their clan of water-dwelling descendants of murdered pregnant slaves. The Historian is the chosen one who remembers the entire story of these creatures’ lives. They can see the beginning, their beginning, how they communicated with whales to learn how to live underwater. The Historian is an honored role, but also a burden as the pain of these stories cause Yetu to suffer.
A traditional gathering of sharing the memories of the past, Yetu passes on the collective history to her family and tribe members and abandons them so she can be free of the burden. Their life after this is explored as well as the histories that are slowly being erased from her memory.
This is a short story that is extremely atmospheric. You feel like you are in the deep depths of the ocean with these creatures. It’s short enough that there’s really no reason to not pick it up, but I think the fact that it is a story exploring the pain and harmful reality of the slave trade is important to read. If you have read it or do, please let me know what you think!