4 Oct 2019

Review: Memory of Water (Teemestarin kirja)

“ The ceremony is over when there is no more water. ”

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

From Goodreads:
Some secrets demand betrayal.

'You’re seventeen, and of age now, and therefore old enough to understand what I’m going to tell you,’ my father said. ‘This place doesn’t exist.’

‘I’ll remember,’ I told him, but didn’t realise until later what kind of promise I had made.

When Noria Kaitio reaches her seventeenth birthday, she is entrusted with the secret of a freshwater spring hidden deep within the caves near her small rural village. Its preservation has been the responsibility of her family for generations.

Apprenticed to her father, one of the last true tea masters, when Noria takes possession of the knowledge, she becomes much more than the guardian of ancestral treasure; soon, she will hold the fate of everyone she loves in her hands.

The heartbreaking ending is worth the wait. 
Noria Kaitio is an apprentice tea master in her household, her father being one of the last true tea masters in existence anymore. Her village is located somewhere in the former Scandinavia, in some time in the future. There are no more freshwater sources, instead all drinking water is filtered from the sea and regulated by the government. Part of Noria's apprenticeship is to learn how to take care of the hidden freshwater source in the mountains. If the source would be found out by the officers in the village, Noria's family and everyone who ever knew about the source would be executed on the spot. 

From the writing, you can see the author is a Finn. At times the main character whose POV the book is written in sinks into these internal monologues which are very typical for Finnish novels. In my opinion, those monologues didn't slow down the plot but instead gave the novel new depth. 

Some decisions in the book were quite brave, they had to be considering the theme. The events happen in a time where basic human rights are not the same anymore. Water has become the most valuable currency and the penalties for breaking the law are harsh. Memory of Water at first might appear to be quite a depressing read. The concept of knowingly breaking the law to preserve traditions is daring. From the main character's point of view, it's bravery, from the government's it's punishable. From the reader's point of view, well that's for the reader to decide. I found myself siding with the main character, fearing the officials, and hoping all would turn out well in the end.

If you want to broaden your reading experience a little with international novels, this one is a great option! The book is an accurate description of the Finnish spirit of not giving up. Even though it's written for the Young Adult audience, I think anyone can find a valuable message from this book.

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