Saturday 18 December 2021


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We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida  {Reviewed by STELLA}

Eulabee lives in Sea Cliff, a coastal neighbourhood of San Fransisco with an enviable view of the Golden Gate. She attends a private all-girls school and is part of a group of teenage girls with her best friend, the enchanting Maria Fabiola, at its centre. All is perfect and desirable, on the surface. Yet the fog that rolls in, literally, over the bay, and metaphorically over the teens, obscuring and confusing the landscape, of the neighbourhood and the girls' behaviour, is quietly threatening. In We Run the Tides, the girls own the streets: they know who lives where and why, who the strange ones are, and what goes on behind closed doors in the skimpiest sense. What it hides, as the girls come to discover as they move through that time between child and adulthood, is both blindingly obvious and indeterminately deceptive: a vagueness that can’t be resolved with the lifting of the murk. Life is golden for Eulabee: her mother, a nurse and her father, an antique dealer, who scored their home through hard work and good fortune — theirs was the doer-upper in the street, a warm, culturally rich home; she has the best friend with a ‘laugh that sounded like a reward’, and is free to enjoy her privileged life. As adolescence raises her head and the gang of girls shift around each other in different patterns, the blinkers slowly lift. Shifts overlaid by the landscape, the tides that rise and fall, creating beauty as well as danger. An incident on the way to school will change her relationship with Maria Fabiola in a way she could never have imagined. Perception is everything, and what one sees and another does not escalates a situation from the trivial to the dramatic, not helped by the enchanting Maria Fabiola and her penchant for attention and excitement. Under this coming-of-age story are deeper issues of coming womanhood, body image and sexual awakening, deception, pretension and power. A missing girl and a body on the beach shake the neighbourhood at its core. Against this backdrop, Eulabee, now isolated and confused after being ousted from the group, edges towards a new understanding of herself and a realisation that her best friend is not the girl she thought she was — and even meeting years later will reveal further truths that the teenage girl had failed to see. Vendela Vida’s compulsively attractive writing and vivid portrayal of growing up in 1980s San Francisco make We Run the Tides captivating and subtly played. 

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