The Deep

The Deep

Book - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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." -- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Saga Press, 2019.
Edition: First Saga Press hardcover edition.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781534439863
Characteristics: 166 pages ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Sep 16, 2020

In this short and intense science ficion novel, mermaids are descendants of African Slaves.
Yetu, our heroine, can feel the horrific pasts of these slaves. She is a historian of the Wajinru people, whose memories are passed down to keep this traumatic history alive and unforgotten. In a situation where these memories may be destroyed by outside forces, Yetu must help her people reclaim their identities and work through the trauma to survive. This book is short, but it completely packs an emotion punch. I found it moving and even difficult to read at times. Uncomfortable and powerful, The Deep asks readers to look beyond their privilege and ask themselves why history must constantly repeat itself.

Sep 06, 2020

Techno-electro music group Drexciya created the mythology and an original "soundtrack"; experimental rap group clipping. composed and performed their song "The Deep" inspired by Drexciya's work; and Rivers Solomom wrote this fable as a reaction to clipping.'s work. THIS IS NOT A MERMAID BOOK. (I've read so many "disappointed" reviews where they just "didn't like the mermaids"...) Solomon powerfully uses fantasy about the water-breathing, sea creature descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard during the Atlantic crossing to discuss the historical and generational trauma of the descendants of enslaved people. Poetic and emotive, but I felt like it lost its way at times.

Jul 09, 2020

Rivers Solomon has written a beautiful prose about the legacy of slaves who were thrown overboard from slave ships travelling from Africa to America. It is an incredible illustration of the concept of generational trauma, embedded in ones DNA. It is a short read, but packed with emotion.

Jun 11, 2020

CW - self harm, attempted suicide. Alluded to.

3-3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy unique fantasy, with vivid world building. This is a novella, but it felt more like a short full length novel to me.

Yetu is the historian of the underwater people descended from slaves thrown overboard from their captor's ships. She bears the weight of their entire history, and it is taking it's toll on her. She is emaciated and has forgotten about the yearly remembering ceremony, where she gives the people of her world the history, and is free of its burden for a short time. She makes the incomprehensible choice to flee to freedom, but can she leave her people to her former suffering? What will happen if they cannot contain the history and end their society as the world knows it?

Wow, first of all, what a unique concept for a fantasy novel. It pulled me in immediately, and the history gives a second meaning to the story that follows. I was very interested in the world that was created and the magic of their history as well. I connected to Yetu's anxiety and overwhelm, but did have a hard time relating to her journey within the novel. While it was very interesting, and short, I didn't find myself having trouble putting it down. It had sort of a slow pace, that I was having trouble connecting with at this time. The way everything came together in the end was very satisfying and and felt relatively powerful. I will say, even with as much as a romance lover as I am... I don't think this story needed the romance. The connections that were made could have been achieved in other ways. I'm not against it, but it felt like a little bit of an afterthought, or an extra. Overall this this book is a really interesting new piece of fantasy. I recommend it if you are looking for something different and engaging.

satx_bookshark May 10, 2020

Rivers Solomon + mermaids = amazing book. I did go into this book expecting more of a ... fantastical story. However, this book simply uses fantastical elements (mermaids) to discuss the really hard and gut-wrenching topic of suppression of history and oppression of a people. But more importantly how these oppressed people survived and adapted and made a new way of life for themselves in the ocean. The book is short, but it has a lot of weight and really, REALLY makes the reader think and consider the social undercurrents (pun intended) the book is discussing.

SPL_Robyn Mar 03, 2020

Blind Date with a Book 2020 comment by borrower:
"This was a surprisingly good story."

Feb 21, 2020

“Forgetting was not the same thing as healing”
The Wajinru, a sea-dwelling community, are descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard. This slim novella goes on to explore memories, survival, healing, and the burden of generational trauma. It’s a powerful metaphor, and reads almost like a dream. I loved everything about this book. I started it on audio, which helped with the world-building.

Feb 06, 2020

The longer the book went on the further it went from what I was expecting. I don't recommend the audiobook, Diggs can't handle doing so many voices and it also comes across as he's reading to an audience of children. I'm not certain the exact intended audience for this, I suppose it's okay for YA/tweens (the book states facts about violence but actual graphic imagery is somewhat limited), but I found his tone grating and probably would've enjoyed the written version more.

Jan 27, 2020

The Deep is the powerful and emotional story of Yetu, the historian of the Wajinru people. The Wajinru are a mermaid-like people living deep in the sea, the descendants of pregnant African slaves who were thrown overboard from slave ships. Their babies could breathe underwater and were raised by whales. The story is set hundreds of years after the time of slavery. The Wajinru appoint one historian to hold and experience all the history and memories of their people, so that they do not have to live burdened by these memories. This person is Yetu. The trauma of experiencing centuries of memories, both wonderful and traumatic, is destroying Yetu emotionally and physically. In a ceremony, she gives the memories to her people and escapes to find herself near land. She experiences autonomy and freedom from the memories for the first time in many years. She meets humans who live near the water and has a relationship with one of them. She must eventually return to the Wajinru and her people must find a new way to keep their memories. This book is beautifully written and haunting. The world building is imaginative and skillfully done. Highly recommended.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jan 23, 2020

A fascinating parable/novella about memory & generational trauma that imagines those descended from Africans thrown from slave ships as mermaid-like creatures.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at CCPL

To Top