Waterborne is a preternatural tale of the Atlantic layered with the textures, colours, and voices of the sea. Stella Maris Goulding is the unwanted child of a teenage mother and a usually absent father. She has grown up in Elsinore, a Newfoundland fishing village, loved and cared for only by her grandmother. Her mother clearly hates her, belittling and abusing her without remorse while cultivating her own beauty. Stella adores her mother and blames herself for the failings with which her mother charges her. The legacy of Stella's unhappy childhood is an emptiness that nothing can fill. Unable to transform her inner self, Stella adopts an outer persona. Binding her torso with an elastic bandage, she dons boxer shorts and a singlet, black jeans and a leather biker jacket. The young man who is not her is free to come and go in the world as he pleases, unobserved. On these journeys, she leaves herself behind like a shed skin. Alone at the seashore, Stella discovers a pale young man washed up on the Newfoundland beach.
Soon, she begins to recognize his part in the strange heritage passed down through generations of her family. She will never know all of her family's story, but as her mother is dying, she learns what she needs to know about them all: her Scottish great-grandmother, her grandmother, her terrible mother, and herself. With her mother, she also recognizes the true identity of the beautiful young man she has befriended.
Waterborne is a compelling and emotionally intense novel about transformation and human desire. JoAnne Soper-Cook has crafted a world steeped in magical realism, where neither time nor betrayal can break the bonds of family.