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02May

We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida review – an enigmatic coming-of-age mystery

Set in 1980s San Francisco, this evocative novel views disappearances in a wealthy suburb through the uncertain prism of adolescence

As 13-year-olds in 1980s San Francisco, Eulabee and her girlfriends own the streets of their affluent, coastal neighbourhood. Sea Cliff is famed for its unbroken views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and to keep it that way, everything ugly is hidden. Even so, menace swirls with the chilly fog that rolls in: Eulabee’s art-dealer father bought their house on the cheap, after the previous owners’ sons – the evocatively known “Prospero boys” – careened off the rails; one of her friends, Faith, is named after the child her parents lost before adopting her; and of course there are the rocks and the crashing waves, which the girls have learned to navigate by timing the tides.

They have altogether less control over their changing bodies, which as well as bestowing new powers are becoming magnets for a different kind of threat. After a man pulls over to ask them the time on their walk to school one morning, Eulabee’s closest friend, Maria Fabiola, claims to have witnessed a lewd act. The others agree, and Eulabee’s refusal to back her up leaves her ostracised.

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