We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida
Published by Ecco
Publication date: February 9, 2021
Genres: Coming-of-age, Contemporary, Fiction, Literary
I’m not sure it’s an actual publishing trend for 2021, but it’s fairly unusual for me to read three novels on the same subject in one year. In this case, it’s private girls’ schools—always fascinating to me, but to the general public? I guess so. In January, there was The Divines and this month, All Girls. The final novel in this trifecta is today’s review: We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida.
The setting is Sea Cliffs, an exclusive neighborhood known for its clear views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s here in We Run the Tides that 13-year-old Eulabee and her best friend, Maria, are queens of all they survey. They know everything about the neighborhood—all its secrets and hidden lives, but even more about the nearby cliffs and beaches. They’ve been best friends since kindergarten, part of a popular clique with two other girls at the Spragg School for Girls. Now, as they enter 8th grade, everything begins to shift, including their relationship.
Eulabee is the confident calm in the friendship while Maria is the sparkling centerpiece. The dynamic works until one morning on their walk to school, they witness something. Or so, Maria says and Julia, one of the other girls, quickly agrees. Eula remembers things very differently. The incident plays out with the school and the police. Eula’s version earns her immediate social isolation and the total severing of her friendship with Maria. A month later Maria disappears, throwing the community into a panic. Only, Eula, disillusioned by what’s she’s learned of friendship, questions everything.
If the title All Girls is apropos for a novel that truly focuses on the inner lives of girls and their school then We Run the Tides is a telling statement about two teenage girls testing the boundaries of their own power. Power that is capricious—only available against the weak and the willing—and only temporarily. By settling Eulabee and Maria in a world of wealth and freedom Vida creates the boundaries against which both will push. From an adult perspective some of the circumstances spiral into absurdity, but for her characters it’s all too real.
Thankfully, Veda grounds the novel with Eulabee’s family. The normalcy and Eula’s behavior around them (even as a sullen teenager) provides respite from the drama. She goes even further by setting the closing chapters in the present day when the girls are almost 50 years old. She writes these so well the trepidation about facing the past is palpable, making We Run the Tides an intriguing look at the power exerted by teenage friendships and how the past continues to hold on even when we’re old enough to know better.
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*I received a free copy of this book from Ecco in exchange for an honest review.*