by Akwaeke Emezi

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How does Ada find healing in Freshwater?

Quick answer:

Ada ultimately finds healing with the help of the priest Leshi, who helps her understand her experiences, by seeking her roots, by taking charge of herself, and by interacting with the god Ala, who shows her how to be a spirit in a body and protect herself.

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In Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, Ada is a troubled woman who is continually plagued by the voices of the obganje, the children of the gods, who live within her. Ada struggles throughout her life with many different issues, unable to successfully form and maintain relationships, sometimes becoming violent, and engaging in self-destructive behavior.

After living in the US for a time, Ada returns to her home country of Nigeria, nearly completely broken in mind and body. Here, she meets the priest Leshi, who has experienced similar issues, and he helps Ada understand what is going on within her. He pulls Ada away from the obganje and helps her become more fully herself.

Ada now knows that she can finally find peace. She prays to the god Ala and learns that she has to connect with the spiritual side of herself rather than continually fighting against the obganje or allowing them to control her. She needs to take charge. A friend suggests that Ada learn more about her personal history and her heritage, and this, too, gives her greater insight and knowledge about who she is as a person.

Finally, Ala shows Ada that she is a snake that can curl in upon herself, forming a circle of protection. She also learns that she is not fully human but rather a spirit in a human body, and this allows her to finally find peace and healing.

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