What the Waves Know (Paperback)

A Novel

By Tamara Valentine

William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062413857, 352pp.

Publication Date: February 9, 2016

List Price: 14.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


In the tradition of Sue Monk Kidd and Beth Hoffman comes a compelling debut novel about a young woman's quest to find herself—and her voice—on the island where she lost both.

The tiny state of Rhode Island is home to even tinier Tillings Island—which witnessed the biggest event of Izabella Rae Haywood's life. For it was there, on Iz's sixth birthday, that her father left...and took her voice with him.

Eight years later in the summer of 1974, Iz’s mother is through with social workers, psychiatrists and her daughter's silence. In one last attempt to return Iz’s voice, the motley pair board the ferry to Tillings in hopes that the journey will help Izabella heal herself by piecing together splintered memories of the day her words fled.

But heartbreak is a difficult puzzle to solve, and everyone in Tillings seems to know something Iz does not. Worse, each has an opinion about Izabella's dreamer of a father, the undercurrents of whose actions have spun so many lives off course.

Now, as the island's annual Yemayá festival prepares to celebrate the ties that bind mothers to children, lovers to each other, and humankind to the sea, Izabella must unravel the tangled threads of her own history and reclaim a voice gone silent…or risk losing herself—and any chance she may have for a future—to the past.

What the Waves Know is a moving, magical novel that asks us to consider the stories which tell the truth and the stories we tell ourselves.

About the Author

Tamara Valentine obtained an M.A. with distinction from Middlebury College and has spent the past fourteen years as a professor in the English Department at Johnson & Wales University. Presently, she lives in Kingston, Rhode Island, with her husband and three children. 

Praise For What the Waves Know: A Novel

What the Waves Know is a beautiful, elegant book that dives deep into the heart of childhood, memory and voice. Izabella, our silent protagonist, will surely stay with you for a very long time, as if she were someone you once knew and loved.
— Jessica Anya Blau, national bestselling author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties

“In this journey of trauma and healing, the walking wounded repair their lives together, their voices shaping a rough chorus that calls us back from darkness to light.”
USA Today bestselling author Pamela Schoenewaldt

With poignant language and compelling characters, Tamara Valentine explores voice and silence, creativity and madness, imagination and memory, and the mysteries that imbue our world and our minds. In so doing, Valentine reminds us that to be fully human is to be both a story teller and a story dweller.
— Christina Meldrum, author of Madapple and Amaryllis in Blueberry

“What the Waves Know is a marvelous novel that creates a sense of place so specific you can practically taste the salt spray on the windswept New England beaches.”
— New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Mary McNear

A novel rich in mythology and childhood secrets... This dreamy coming-of-age mystery unfolds in tantalizing waves with keen insight and lush prose.
— Kirkus Reviews

Valentine’s debut is a well-written, charming book. She writes gracefully about loss and sadness and how time and good people can help to heal the wounds of a hurting child.
— Library Journal

With the sass of Fannie Flagg and the subtle magic of Alice Hoffman, this short but powerful book should find readers of many generations.
— Booklist

“Valentine’s debut novel is a beautiful tale of loss, love and the fortitude of the human spirit.”
— Romantic Times BOOKclub, 4 stars