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The Seas (Paperback)
This is a book best enjoyed on a worn couch, with mist pressing in at the windows and the roar of the sea outside. Our main character is a young woman living in a seaside town so far north that the roads only go south – that the only way out, really, is to go seaward. Which is exactly what our narrator’s father did, eleven years ago – he walked into the sea, leaving his wife, daughter, and father alone and adrift. All our narrator has to cling to are these facts: she loves words; she loves a man thirteen years her senior, who will not touch her; and that her father told her that she is a mermaid.
Anything else I tell you will be a disservice to you, to this book, and to Samantha Hunt’s wonderful ability to spin a yarn. All I can say is that I finished this book feeling genuinely heartsick, and fighting the urge to go develop a yearning relationship with an older man (lol). Those of us who grew up by the sea know its power – the way it becomes part of you, erodes the ability to live anywhere else – and Hunt’s main character embodies this, the small part of the heart that will always belong to the sea, that will always ache for something else. The narration is such that you won’t always be sure whether or not the narrator is sane – whether the events she describes are actually happening – and ultimately, I think the answer is who cares? In order to best enjoy this book, I would recommend hanging your disbelief – your need for truthful storytelling, your need for the description of things that “actually happened” – on a hook next to your yellow rain slicker, above your giant rubber galoshes, and curling up under a blanket with a mug of something hot. You don’t need that disbelief. Holding onto it will only rob you of the joy of reading The Seas – you will enjoy yourself so much more once you’ve left it by the door.— Grace, Longfellow Books
The strange, beautiful story of a girl growing up in a fishing village: coping with loss, wrestling with love, and searching for the magic lying just below the surface.— Matt, Longfellow Books
"The Seas took me back to how I felt as a kid, when you’re newly falling in love with literature, newly shocked by its capacity to cast a spell..." ?Maggie Nelson (from the Introduction)
A Most Anticipated Book of Summer at BuzzFeed, NYLON, and more.
Moored in a coastal fishing town so far north that the highways only run south, the unnamed narrator of The Seas is a misfit. She’s often the subject of cruel local gossip. Her father, a sailor, walked into the ocean eleven years earlier and never returned, leaving his wife and daughter to keep a forlorn vigil. Surrounded by water and beckoned by the sea, she clings to what her father once told her: that she is a mermaid.
True to myth, she finds herself in hard love with a land-bound man, an Iraq War veteran thirteen years her senior.The mesmerizing, fevered coming-of-age tale that follows will land her in jail. Her otherworldly escape will become the stuff of legend.
With the inventive brilliance and psychological insight that have earned her international acclaim, Samantha Hunt pulls readers into an undertow of impossible love and intoxication, blurring the lines between reality and fairy tale, hope and delusion, sanity and madness.
About the Author
Samantha Hunt’s The Seas, her debut novel, won a National Book Foundation award for writers under thirty-five. She is also the author of Mr. Splitfoot, Dark, Dark: Stories, and The Invention of Everything Else. Hunt's writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, McSweeney's, A Public Space, Tin House, Cabinet, among others.
It’s hard to imagine that a book so brief could tackle the Iraq war, grief over the loss of a parent, the longing for freedom, an enthrallment with the ocean, loneliness, sexual awakening, faith, and etymology, all in less than 200 pages, but Samantha Hunt has done it, and done it well.
— Chicago Review of Books