Sara Freeman's Tides is a sparse and unconventional novel of one woman's undoing--and knitting herself back together again in the most unlikely of ways.
The woman herself is unimportant at first. She remains unnamed, until Freeman reveals in a passing dialogue that her name is Mara; she is unmoored, until snippets of her past start to come back to her in memory and in conversation. This is how Mara is defined across the pages of Freeman's staggering debut, not by what she is, but by what she is not: "this is not that," she says time and again.
And yet, as Mara tries to remain aloof and alone, she is slowly knit into the fabric of the new community where she has landed, an off-season seaside town that offers her a harsh and unforgiving refuge, and reminded of the fabric of her past. As Mara asks, so does Freeman pose to her readers: Is it possible to isolate one's present from one's past? Or is the past a tide unto itself, ebbing and flowing each day, each season?
Tides unfolds across a series of vignettes, some as short as a sentence or two, some wending across pages. This pace is somewhat disquieting at first, though it eventually settles into a rhythm that feels like time itself. The beauty of Freeman's prose lies as much in this unexpected cadence as in the contrast between beauty and harshness tucked into every page. In its poetic unfolding, Tides reveals itself to be a stunning and revelatory tale. --Kerry McHugh, freelance writer