When Ada leaves home for her freshman year at a Historically Black College, it’s the first time she’s ever been so far from her family—and the first time that she’s been able to make her own choices and to seek her place in this new world. As she stumbles deeper into the world of dance and explores her sexuality, she also begins to wrestle with her past—her mother’s struggle with addiction, her Nigerian father’s attempts to make a home for her. Ultimately, Ada discovers she needs to brush off the destiny others have chosen for her and claim full ownership of her body and her future.
“Candice Iloh’s beautifully crafted narrative about family, belonging, sexuality, and telling our deepest truths in order to be whole is at once immensely readable and ultimately healing.”—Jacqueline Woodson, New York Times Bestselling Author of Brown Girl Dreaming
“An essential—and emotionally gripping and masterfully written and compulsively readable—addition to the coming-of-age canon.”—Nic Stone, New York Times Bestselling Author of Dear Martin
“This is a story about the sometimes toxic and heavy expectations set onthe backs of first-generation children, the pressures woven into the familydynamic, culturally and socially. About childhood secrets with sharp teeth. And ultimately, about a liberation that taunts every young person.” —Jason Reynolds, New York Times Bestselling Author of Long Way Down
About the Author
Candice Iloh is a first-generation Nigerian American writer whose books center home. They are from the Midwest by way of Washington, DC, and Brooklyn, New York. They are a proud alumna of the Rhode Island Writers Colony, and their work has earned fellowships from Lambda Literary, VONA, and Kimbilio Fiction and a residency with Hi-ARTS, where they debuted their first one-person show in 2018. Candice became a 2020 National Book Award Finalist and, in 2021, a Printz Award Honoree for their debut novel, Every Body Looking. Salt the Water is their third novel.
A Finalist for the National Book Award A Michael L. Printz Award Honoree One of Reader's Digest's 50 Best YA Novels of All Time
"Candice Iloh's beautifully crafted narrative about family, belonging, sexuality, and telling our deepest truths in order to be whole is at once immensely readable and ultimately healing."—Jacqueline Woodson, New York Times bestselling author of Brown Girl Dreaming
"An essential—and emotionally gripping and masterfully written and compulsively readable—addition to the coming-of-age canon."—Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin
"I can't remember the last time I read a story that stood this effortlessly at the axis of so many slivers of young American life. To show complexity without box-checking, and empathy without melodrama, to me, makes this a story with legs, and Iloh a writer to watch." —Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author of Long Way Down
“This blazing coming-of-age comet will have everybody looking up.”—New York Times
"Lyrical, insightful, and searing."—Teen Vogue
“[Iloh] makes a stunning debut with this brilliant coming-of-age tale.”—Buffalo News
"[A portrait] of a young woman struggling with issues both universal — wanting to be liked, to feel seen, to make a friend — and specific to the experiences of a Black woman and child of immigrants.... [T]riumphant."—Vox ★ "In this stunning debut for young adults, Iloh crafts succinct, beautiful poems to illustrate the difficulties of navigating the tangle of family history and obligation, the power of art to heal and express, and the strength it takes to chart an authentic, independent path."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "This book is a testament to the beauty of Black girls, their circumstances, bodies, and cultures."—Booklist, starred review