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We Run the Tides


We Run the Tides

Chronicling one year in the lives of four teenage girls in pre-tech boom San Francisco, Vendela Vida’s WE RUN THE TIDES is an instantly gripping, hauntingly beautiful tribute to the interior lives of young women and how the world begins to change them.

Teenagers Eulabee and Maria Fabiola reside in a world of dichotomies. The eldest students at their upscale girls’ school, they are not yet grown women. Still young enough to pull off mischievous pranks, their bodies are beginning to swell and curve in ways that make them noticeable to the men around them. Together with their friends, Julia and Faith, they feel as if the streets of their neighborhood, Sea Cliff, are theirs and theirs alone. Only they know the intimate slopes of the streets and the curves of the beaches, which aging rock star lives in which mansion, and which home boasts the most suitable boys. But for all they know --- or at least believe they know --- the world around them remains full of unseen and insidious dangers, malicious and inappropriate acts that they have never noticed before.

"WE RUN THE TIDES is a spellbinding and achingly poignant novel, particularly for its short length. Vida’s prose is stark but exquisite, dark but surprisingly funny."

The year is 1984, and the girls have settled into a comfortable routine, walking in the same pattern to school every day, orbiting the same boys, and teasing the same teachers at their ritzy school. But Maria Fabiola --- always the most beautiful of the girls --- is starting to change: her hair has developed natural waves, her breasts have emerged from her scrawny chest, and her pull on the people around her has strengthened. With her newfound power comes a sort of insanity, a desire to step outside the lines and mold the reality around her. But her new look has drawbacks, too, such as unwanted attention from men (including the father of one of her friends) and strict new dress codes aimed at hiding her changing body.

When the girls are walking to school one day, a man in a car asks them for the time, noting that he thought it was much later. When they get to school, Maria Fabiola’s telling of the encounter has grown wings; in her version, the stranger was touching himself and threatened to find them later. However, Eulabee denies that account, turning Maria Fabiola into a social outcast in their friend group and the school at large. Her distance from them is amplified when she is kidnapped. Or is she?

Eulabee knows that Maria Fabiola has a tendency to stretch the truth, but Sea Cliff becomes obsessed with the story of a brilliant girl and budding ballerina (both half-truths) being abducted. As Eulabee comes to learn, her former friend is not just beautiful, she is also an incredibly wealthy heiress, which forces her to wonder what other details she has missed about her friends, their families and all of Sea Cliff when she was too young to question everything. Leaving Eulabee alone with her thoughts, Vida welcomes readers into the glorious, dangerous world of the mind of a teenage girl, full of sharp angles, thorny passageways and plenty of angst.

As the mystery of Maria Fabiola’s disappearance plays out in the background, Eulabee --- already the most self-aware and honest of her friends --- starts to see her wealthy, privileged upbringing as anything but normal and begins to take notice of the way that she and her friends are seen by the world. Her innocence wears away through encounters with boys and brushes with death, mirroring the radical transformation of the city she inhabits. Laying bare the inner turmoil and growing pains of Eulabee’s teenage years, Vida simultaneously draws an immersive, inimitable portrait of foggy, eccentric San Francisco. As the changes in one are mirrored in another, the mystery of Maria Fabiola fades away and is replaced by an even greater story of confusion, longing and fear.

WE RUN THE TIDES is a spellbinding and achingly poignant novel, particularly for its short length. Vida’s prose is stark but exquisite, dark but surprisingly funny. She draws sharp realizations through Eulabee that feel at once decidedly youthful and naive and wise beyond their years. Eulabee is a fantastic protagonist, and Vida positions her perfectly at the cusp of youth and adulthood, masterfully unpacking every loss of innocence, every hunt for freedom and every battle for authenticity. Much like the ocean it describes, the book is full of sweeping undercurrents, striking highs and lows, and an overwhelming sense of power that makes this short novel feel impossibly full of heart and wisdom.

Perfect for readers of MEMORIAL, THE DIVINES and any wickedly dark coming-of-age stories, WE RUN THE TIDES is a novel that will stick with you for years to come.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on February 12, 2021

We Run the Tides
by Vendela Vida

  • Publication Date: October 12, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco
  • ISBN-10: 0062936247
  • ISBN-13: 9780062936240