Book Review: On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu

4 Stunning, lyrical, heart aching stars

Happy publication day to E. Lily Yu!!! This novel was so important.

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On Fragile Waves was stunning, heart breaking, and difficult. It is an important experience to immortalize on paper, and I loved that I was able to read it. As a story of a family who of dreamers and story tellers, the lyrical prose really fit the bill for this. It gave off a light magic touch, on brand with the magical realism in the story. It was really cool to see the prose match that story telling so well!

Also, I’m not sure if this was just me, but it felt like the prose felt a little more grounded toward the end when everything was resolving, and they didn’t need to rely on stories to surive anymore. I could be imagining that, but I really liked that!! 💝

That being said, I think because of the way the prose is written, this story lost my interest somewhere in between 50-65%, but luckily won back my attention the next time there was a time jump. 😅

“Anyone can suffer. But joy — that’s hard. Ask about joy.”

Even though the middle got a little slow there, the ending completely broke my heart. The solution that Atay sees in the end is just… so hard. So devastating. Way too real of a solution. My heart ached the entire time reading this book, but the end was causing me real pain. Amazing work, E. Lily Yu!

Big Takeaway

On Fragile Waves has stunning prose that matches the dreamers and storytellers of this incredibly undertold experience of a family. Though it dragged a bit in the middle, it ties off with a beautiful solution filled with tragic love that broke my heart. 💔

**I received an ARC of this title for free and am leaving this review voluntarily**

About the Author

E. Lily Yu received the Artist Trust / LaSalle Storyteller Award in 2017 and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 2012. Her stories appear in venues from McSweeney’s to and in twelve best-of-the-year anthologies, and have been finalists for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards. [This is] her first novel, On Fragile Waves.

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