Foreword Indies Book of the Year Awards finalist, multicultural category, 2018
Called an "arresting, timely" take on sexual assault by The Boston Globe
"Author Ioanna Opidee wrestles with sexual assault and its aftermath in an arresting, timely way. The novel, set in Boston and a village on a Greek island, follows Greek-American Irinie Pothos through her on-campus attack and the reckoning that follows, shining light on not just the extremes of violence, but the more subtle and insidious indignities and inequalities around us. In Rinie, Opidee has given us a sensitive protagonist who walks the uncomfortable, universal line between alienation and acceptance. The book offers a look at what it takes to put the shards back together after a shattering, showing not that it's easy, or fast, but possible." -- Nina MacLaughlin, Boston Globe
"Ioanna Opidee’s Waking Slow is a beautifully written book that is notable for its unflinching honesty. Opidee has portrayed a sensitive, young woman trying to deal not only with the miseries of a shallow social culture but the almost casual fact of date rape, as if this hideous act were just another undergraduate, male rumpus. Few novels have gone so deeply into how a young woman can be harmed while the world around her goes about its selfish business. The particular strength of her novel is that her protagonist rises from the ashes and starts to affirm her heritage and her worth. This is a book, especially after the Kavanaugh hearings, that everyone should read." --Baron Wormser, poet and author, most recently of Tom o’ Vietnam and Legends of the Slow Explosion
"In Ioanna Opidee's Waking Slow, we meet Rinie, an undergraduate seeking to liberate herself from the internal torment in the head and heart of a date rape victim. Rinie's transformation occurs slowly, and eventually, somewhere between Boston and the Greek island, Tinos, on the shores of her resilience, in memory, and in practice, Rinie finds the pathways to selfhood." --James M. Chesbro, author of A Lion in the Snow: Essays on a Father's Journey Home
"This lyrical novel treats the essential subject of sexual assault with authenticity, great care, and grace. Rinie is a masterfully crafted character who reflects on her trauma as well as previous life experiences (including other tragedies and conflicts) in order to determine, perhaps for the first time, who she really is. Her contemplations create a patchwork of her present college life in Boston, her childhood in CT, and trips to visit her grandparents in Greece. Along with the protagonist, we spiral, wade through the pain and hopelessness of severe self-doubt, and are ultimately, poetically, reborn into strength, acceptance, and self-love. This story comes at a time when we need it most, offering a unique and necessary voice to the collective conversation. Oh, and it’s beautifully written." --Alena Dillon, author of Mercy House and The Happiest Girl in the World
"Again and again I have been stunned by the innate poetry and lyricism in Ioanna Opidee’s prose, and her insight into the human soul; the truth told and wisdom unearthed in her magnificent novel places Opidee at the elevated level of prose making..."
-Da Chen, New York Times bestselling author of Colors of the Mountain and Sounds of the River
"Ioanna Opidee convincingly enters the confused, sad, angry, depressed mind of a young woman reeling from a date rape at a Boston university. Avoiding cliche and sensationalism, Waking Slow feels like a documentary as the protagonist slowly and realistically manages to turn her life around and find herself. Fiction is rarely this sincere and heartfelt. All incoming college freshmen--women and men--should be required to read this book!" --Chris Belden, author of the novels Shriver and Carry-on, & the story collection The Floating Lady of Lake Tawaba.
Set between Boston and a bucolic Greek island village, Waking Slow traces an emotional, psychological, and spiritual quest for identity and understanding. After having been sexually assaulted, Irinie "Rinie" Pothos - whose first name means "peace" and last name means "hunger" - craves strength, independence, and clarity. She refuses to wait passively for those states of being and - like water - Rinie transforms. She's able to yield, destroy, obstruct, heal, or nourish - depending on the circumstances and pressures, as well as the status of her intrinsic will. In Rinie's journey, we discover the volatility of a fragile mind that has been shattered by violence and fear. Waking Slow is indeed a story of lost innocence. Yet, as Rinie explores her magical and mythic heritage, she slowly regains that innocence - along with a newfound resolve and perspective. Her story captures the feelings of desperately wanting to belong, to fit in—to love and be loved. It painfully, yet honestly depicts the unwarranted shame and distrust inherited by the people who have endured these experiences once they dare to seek joy and pleasure again. The redemptive power of Waking Slow - and Rinie - will surprise you. From PFP Publishing (November 2018)