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After their mother, Marianne, is institutionalized following a suicide attempt, Edie and Mae go to live with their estranged father. But it quickly becomes clear that the two sisters understood life with their mother very differently, and that there is much more to their parents’ relationship than they’d previously known. As the conflict between the sisters grows, questions arise about the past and the sway that parents hold over their children. But what makes this a remarkable novel is the intricate exploration of perspective and the false stability of narrative; when you look at the story from different sides, the idea that there is one truth crumbles. Each of Apekina’s characters arrive at the present with full stories of their own, well-developed viewpoints and influences that drive them to understand events in different ways. What I loved about this novel is that it is, in a way, a literary mystery: whose story do we hold as truth?— From Kelsey's Picks
*2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
*Longlisted for The Crook's Corner Book Prize
*Longlisted for the 2019 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award
*Shortlisted for the 2020 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for Fiction
*A Best Book of 2018 --Kirkus Reviews, BuzzFeed News, Entropy, LitReactor, LitHub
*35 Over 35 Award 2018
*One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Fall --Vulture, Harper's BAZAAR, BuzzFeed News, Publishers Weekly, The Millions, Bustle, Fast Company
It's 16-year-old Edie who finds their mother Marianne dangling in the living room from an old jump rope, puddle of urine on the floor, barely alive. Upstairs, 14-year-old Mae had fallen into one of her trances, often a result of feeling too closely attuned to her mother's dark moods. After Marianne is unwillingly admitted to a mental hospital, Edie and Mae are forced to move from their childhood home in Louisiana to New York to live with their estranged father, Dennis, a former civil rights activist and literary figure on the other side of success.
The girls, grieving and homesick, are at first wary of their father's affection, but soon Mae and Edie's close relationship begins to fall apart--Edie remains fiercely loyal to Marianne, convinced that Dennis is responsible for her mother's downfall, while Mae, suffocated by her striking resemblances to her mother, feels pulled toward their father. The girls move in increasingly opposing and destructive directions as they struggle to cope with outsized pain, and as the history of Dennis and Marianne's romantic past clicks into focus, the family fractures further.
Moving through a selection of first-person accounts and written with a sinister sense of humor, The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish powerfully captures the quiet torment of two sisters craving the attention of a parent they can't, and shouldn't, have to themselves. In this captivating debut, Katya Apekina disquietingly crooks the lines between fact and fantasy, between escape and freedom, and between love and obsession.
"The structure, characters and storyline are all refreshingly original, and the writing is nothing short of gorgeous. It's a stunningly accomplished book, and Apekina isn't afraid to grab her readers by the hand and take them to some very dark and very beautiful places."
--Michael Schaub, NPR