Remember being thirteen? Or rather not? We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida will take you back to your teens the way Sally Rooney took you back to your first love in Normal People. The insecurities, dramas, hopes, lies, friendships, crushes, embarrassments; Vida reminds us what a roller-coaster of emotions puberty is through the story of headstrong Eulabee and her best friend, the bewitchingly beautiful and charismatic Maria Fabiola. Addictive reading.
It’s the 1980s and we’re in a posh suburb of San Francisco where ‘everything ugly is hidden’. Eulabee attends an exclusive, ambitious girl’s school her parents can just about afford. Around her is wealth and privilege, large beachfront houses and Maria Fabiola, heiress to a sugar fortune and teller of lies. Falling out is easily done when you’re thirteen and when Eulabee stands up to what she feels is a fabrication, Maria Fabiola and her little posse of fans turn against her.
Vida gets under the skin of Eulabee; we feel what she feels as she fumbles her way through adolescence and newfound loneliness. There’s a lot to process: a burgeoning sexual desire, conflicts blown out of proportion, loyalty and betrayal which seem to go hand in hand. As Eulabee wakes-up to the world of adults, it becomes clear that the picture-perfect suburb houses more than its share of unhappy people, both adults and children.
A raw and truthful novel that will resonate with anyone who’s been thirteen.
We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida is published by Atlantic Books, 272 pages.