Cover Image: We Run the Tides

We Run the Tides

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We Run the Tides is a coming-of-age, loss-of-innocence novel set in Sea Cliff, an oceanside suburb of San Francisco in the 1980s. The narrator is thirteen-year old Eulabee but the real protagonist is her glamorous, rich and beautiful friend Maria Fabiola – “Maria Fabulous” to her male admirers – who is by turns envied and idolised by all around her.  Maria Fabiola’s mysterious disappearance, and the upheaval this brings to the community is a watershed moment for Eulabee and her generation, one that will mark her journey to adulthood.

I am a sucker for coming-of-age novels, and although I was still a boy in the eighties (and lived on the other side to the world to San Francisco) I still strongly got the feeling of nostalgia evoked by the author. Admittedly, lately we seem to be getting several novels using the missing person “hook” in the context of a coming-of-age story (I’m thinking, for example of "Marilou is Everywhere" by Sarah Elaine Smith or The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McClean). I came to We Run The Tides expecting a riff on the same themes. What I didn’t expect was the humour behind the narration – at times eliciting a wry smile, at others sparking a laugh-out-loud moment.    This was a pleasant surprise, and one which gave the novel its particular flavour.

OK, the book might not be perfect.   For instance, I’m not sure that the “knowing” voice of Eulabee sounds like an authentic young teenager – it is probably more fitting to Eulabee’s older and wiser persona. Similarly, the event-packed narrative tests readers’ ability to suspend their disbelief, particularly considering that this is ultimately a “realist” novel.   But it was still a gripping read – an intriguing mix of drama, mystery and humour.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this thought provoking novel. At times there was a level of specificity that I really liked, while at other times it felt general in a powerful way - a chosen anecdote reflecting something that felt very true to female and girlhood friendships, I thought a lot about things from my own youth - and I understood why we were being told them. There was a rich sense of character that allowed me to feel both a connection to and also the absolute difference between myself and the characters in the book.

I was reminded of Clap When You Land, Another Brooklyn and some of Curtis Sittenfeld's short stories. High praise indeed.

My thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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My rating is 3.5.

When the world churns all you want to do is bury yourself nose deep in a book that whisks you away into a different one. That’s what Vendela Vida’s “We Run the Tides” did for me. Eulabee and her best friend Maria Fabiola are teenagers who live in a tony neighbourhood named Sea Cliff, which looks out on to the Golden Gate Bridge. “Everything in Sea Cliff is about the view of the bridge.” Set in the 1980’s, the story follows Eulabee, Maria Fabiola, and a few other girls who study at the Spragg School for Girls. Life is all about boys, parties, and beach walks until a small incident(in fact, two) change everything.  

The story spins out in a classic case of unreliable narrators. The incident, where a man in a car stops Eulabee to ask her the time, is viewed in different ways by different people. To top it all, Maria Fabiola disappears setting in motion some rumours, whispered facts, and other things in between. 

Vida’s writing is captivating, freezing those breathless moments of adolescence when everything seems plausible and larger-than-life. There’s endless curiosity, drama, and anxiety about anything and everything. I was immersed in the neighbourhood too, which has fabulously wealthy families living in mansions each with an equally fabulous story of its own,

“We know the towering brick house where the magician Carter the Great lived; he had a theatre inside and his dining room table rose up through a trapdoor…We know the imposing salmon-colored house that had a party at which masked robbers appeared; when a female guest wouldn’t relinquish her ring, they cut off her finger.”

I really enjoyed this vision of a place well before the sleek tech start-ups, restaurants sporting vegan lunch menus, and cafes with Edison bulbs and exposed brickwork popped up. As Eulabee says towards the end “The streets of Sea Cliff are no longer ours.” 

In the end, if you ask me, there wasn’t a particular story to be told. Yet, it was an engaging read about friendships and adolescence. A nice one if you want a fast read.

Thanks to Atlantic Books for the ARC.
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Vendela Vida takes the reader back to 1980s San Francisco in this poignant coming-of-age novel. Vida mixes enigmatic mystery with the day to day adolescent seamlessly. 'We Run the Tides' is written with evocative prose and as such I am excited to read more of Vendela Vida's work in the future
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This was a lovely coming-of-age story set in pre mobile phone 1980s San Francisco. Told from the perspective of 13 year old Eulabee it focuses on four teenage friends in a wealthy area of the city. It was beautifully written, and perfectly portrayed that awkward time between adolescence and adulthood.
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Reading this was so familiar, yet so different at the same time. Like the girls in this novel I was a young teenager in the 1980s, yet all the reference points are different. I grew up in an isolated part of a rural English county, a world away from Sea Cliff in San Francisco. I had to look it up to know it was quite an exclusive area of San Francisco with incredible views, something that had me thinking of the TV series Big Little Lies. Our narrator is a ‘we’ - the combined minds of four young girls who go to the same elite school and own this area. Eulabee, Maria, Julie and Faith - they ‘are the we that own these streets. Yet, Eulabee and Maria are best friends so when they have a falling out it ricochets through the group. The group witness something terrible on the way to school, or do they? They seem to disagree. Eulabee can lie, but here she really seems to feel she’s telling the truth. Is there something sinister about her. 

 Maria is the one who influences the others, she  is the beauty, with a pretty laugh and the more developed body. Pretty girls always hold sway in a group like this and so Eulabee is left on the outside of the group. Left to her own devices she makes friends with an au pair called Ewa. Eulabee’s mother tries to help the largely Swedish au pairs and has Ewa live with them when she has problems in her host family. Ewa is comfortable with herself, a little older, and starts to introduce music and boys to Eulabee. For me, the story comes second to the beautiful narrative voices in the book. This author sits inside the mind of a teenage girl beautifully. There was a huge amount of nostalgia in remembering when I was a young teenager, changing, outgrowing my family, easily influenced and desperate to be liked. The short and simple sentence structure, captures the thoughts of a teenage girl so perfectly. It was like collecting my stepdaughters and listening to them chat about their friends, clothes and ideas about the world. There’s so much angst, but so much fun and wit too. I think for American readers the densely layered descriptions will take them right back to the 1980s.
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We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida is about young girl and her friends, the communitythey live in and the following ups and downs. This was an easy read at less than 300 pages and enjoyable
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It’s the middle of the 80s and San Francisco hasn’t turned into the tech/IT hotspot it is today. Teenager Eulabee grows up in a more well-off part close to the beach and attends an expensive all-girls school with her best friends Maria Fabiola. The girls are still somewhere between being kids and becoming visibly female and with this transformation also come the problems. Maria Fabiola is the first to attract attention from the opposite sex, but her radiant appearance also charms women which is why she gets away with almost everything. Eulabee is far from being that self-confident and therefore sticks to the truth what leads to her being excluded from the girl circles of her school. When Maria Fabiola vanishes, the whole community is alarmed, but Eulabee from the start does not believe in a kidnapping, she has known Maria Fabiola for too long and is well aware of her former friend’s greed for attention.

Vendela Vida still isn’t as renowned as her husband Dave Eggers even though she has published several books by now and has won the Kate Chopin Award. I found her last novel “The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty” quite exceptional in the choice of perspective and therefore was eager to read her latest novel “We Run the Tides”. This time, she goes back in time and has chosen teenage girls as protagonists. The story is told from Eulabee’s perspective and captures well the mixed emotions a girl goes through when becoming a woman. Also the ambiance of the 1980s is convincingly depicted.

The most central aspect of the novel is surely the friendship between Eulabee and Maria Fabiola and its shift when one of the girls develops a bit quicker than the other. Maria Fabiola is well aware of the effect she has on other people and uses this for her own advantage. Eulabee, in contrast, is still much more a girl, insecure in how to behave and what to do about the situation. She does not fight but accept what’s happening. Her first attempts of approaching boys seem to be successful but end up in total disappointment. She is a close observer and can well interpret the relationships she sees, between her parents, her mother and her sister and also the other girls and teachers at her school. Without any doubt she is a likeable character and treated highly unfairly. But that’s how kids behave at times.

I liked how the plot developed and how the vanishing of the girls turned out quite unexpectedly. Yet, I didn’t fully understand why the author has chosen to add another chapter set in the present. For me, the story was perfectly told at a certain point and admittedly, neither was I really interested in Eulabee’s later life nor in another encounter of the two women as grown-ups. Still, I do not really know what to make of Maria Fabiola when they meet for the first time decades later. 

To sum up, wonderfully narrated, a great coming-of-age story with a strong protagonist.
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This book was a struggle - it was relatively short, but it took me almost the entire month to finish it. The plot was meandering at best, very character centric but unfortunately not delivered in an interesting or intriguing manner. I didn’t care about the story or the characters and at the end, I heaved a sigh of relief.
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There is always one girl in a year group who casts a spell over everyone and you can't quite work out why. People do things for her when they know they shouldn't and yet she always seems to get away with it. In this very enjoyable book a girl questions the actions of that popular girl a little more than the rest of her friends, resulting in unintended consequences.  The politics of school and friendship are beautifully described; the pain of being ostracised, the confusion of first sexual experiences and the conflict between truth and popularity as a teen girl. 

I appreciated the ending; the penny dropping all those years later as to what was really going on was satisfying and realistic - I still gets moments of clarity thirty five years since I was last a teenager when it suddenly dawns on me why someone behaved in a certain way. 

A top read.
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I loved this book! This is a coming of age story of friendship set in San Fransisco in the 1980s. I adored the audacious, unflinching and courageous behaviour of the group, Vendela Vida has a wonderful gift of writing from the perspective of 13 year old girls with such honesty and transparency. A must read!
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The style and subject matter of this novel seems a blend of novels I have already read (Another Brooklyn, Sea Monsters, any of  Patricia Engel's books). So, while I recognize that this kind of story has an audience, I can't say that I a fan of this genre. Vida's prose isn't as wry or amusing as it seems intent on being, and the narrator isn't all that subversive.
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Loved the poetic writing style of Vendela Vida. The book revolves around a teenager named Eulabee and her friends, and their experiences living in a rich community: Sea Cliff. It had a really realistic feel, and something that stood out to me was how the girls fell out over such a small disagreement - something which has potentially happened to every young girl at some point in her childhood. The style and overall feel of the novel really reminded me of the film "Lady Bird".
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I'm new to Vida's writing, having read the brilliant The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty a month or so ago, but since then I've devoured Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and now this, her latest novel. There's something so fresh and exciting about her writing. You know the excitement that comes with finding a writer whose writing and plot lines totally gel with your wants and expectations? That's what I get with Vendela Vida's novels. 

We Run The Tides is a coming of age story set in 1980s Sea Cliff, San Francisco. Eulabee, spends her days on the beach scrambling up rocks with her band of pals from private school: the most beautiful and captivating of which is Maria Fabiola. Eulabee (and everyone else in town) is enamoured of Maria Fabiola, and the girls are thick as thieves. Until one day, when a misunderstanding happens, and Eulabee is ostracised by her friends, with a chain of results ultimately resulting in Maria Fabiola going missing. It soon transpires that Maria has a more sinister side than many people realise, and the rest of the novel follows the fall-out of her disappearance.

The 1980s and the neighbourhood the girls live in felt perfectly evoked, as did the awkwardness and angst of being a teenage girl. This felt slightly more conventional than the other two novels I've read by the author but this isn't a criticism. I think the only tiny niggly letdown for me was that some of the dialogue between the girls felt like it was more like conversation between grown women, but I let this slide given how much I enjoyed everything else that was going on. Recommended!
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This is an interestingly written story of one girls experience of 8th grade. Although the story is contemporary to me it had the feel of being written in the 1980’s. The story is written in first person but the narrative voice also seemed to be a spectator of the things happening. It reminded me of the book the virgin suicides.
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We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida is a compelling novel about a teenage girl and her friendship group and the community in which they live. I was looking forward to reading it as she is one of my favourite authors and I wasn't disappointed.
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