We Run the Tides

Vendela Vida

We Run the Tides
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We Run the Tides

Vendela Vida

Teenage Eulabee and her alluring best friend, Maria Fabiola, own the streets of Sea Cliff, their foggy, oceanside San Francisco neighborhood. They know the ins and outs of the homes and beaches, Sea Cliff’s hidden corners and eccentric characters-as well as the swanky all-girls' school they attend. Their lives move along uneventfully, with afternoon walks by the ocean and weekend sleepovers. Then everything changes.

Eulabee and Maria Fabiola have a disagreement about what they did or didn’t witness on the way to school one morning, and this creates a schism in their friendship. The rupture is followed by Maria Fabiola’s sudden disappearance - a potential kidnapping that shakes the quiet community and threatens to expose unspoken truths.

Suspenseful and poignant, We Run the Tides is Vendela Vida’s masterpiece depiction of an inimitable place on the brink of radical transformation. Pre-tech boom San Francisco finds its mirror in the changing lives of the teenage girls at the centre of this story of innocence lost, the pain of too much freedom, and the struggle to find one’s authentic self.

Told with a gimlet eye and great warmth, We Run the Tides is both a gripping mystery and a tribute to the wonders of youth, in all its beauty and confusion.


Coming-of-age novels about female friendship are always going to the top of my reading pile, especially if you add in a mysterious disappearance, and tie the whole thing together with a wickedly funny 13-year-old narrator. I’ve been eagerly anticipating Vendela Vida’s latest, We Run the Tides, since the release of her previous work The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty five years ago. That novel confirmed Vida’s assured, inventive skill; it was a joy to read and a book I still recommend eagerly and often. So I’m thrilled to report that We Run the Tides is another novel that I’ll be enthusiastically pressing into the hands of friends and strangers.

It’s 1984 in Sea Cliff, San Francisco, an oceanside neighbourhood with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, where teenage Eulabee and her magnetic best friend, Maria Fabiola, roam the streets. They walk to and from their fancy all-girls school with a group of firm friends, scramble around the cliffs that surround their local beaches, and keep their eyes wide open for boys who might notice them. ‘Separately we are good girls. We behave. Together, some strange alchemy occurs and we are trouble.’

The trouble in question starts with a disagreement about what they did or didn’t witness on the way to school one morning: Maria Fabiola claims they were harassed by a stranger on the street, Eulabee contradicts her and suddenly finds herself socially outcast. When Maria Fabiola disappears suddenly, We Run the Tides expands into a compelling mystery. Where this novel shines is in its witty and constantly surprising narrative voice. Eulabee is the most engaging character I’ve spent time with in years – I laughed out loud at her wry observations, and found myself utterly swept away by the dreamy yearning of girlhood she conveys. This slim novel will leave you thinking about the complicated nature of friendship and the grey space between truth and lies, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Stella Charls is a bookseller for Readings Carlton.

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