We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida
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.