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The Naked Don't Fear the Water

"Whatever separates us, we travel on the surface of a sphere. I know our paths must cross."


Omar, a young Afgan driver and translator, is one of millions of refugees to leave his home in 2016. Matthieu Aikins, a journalist living in Kabul, decides to follow his friend on the underground refugee trail. Their travels from Afganistan to Europe bring them many challenges, friends, and insights into the immigration crisis.

thoughts & feelings

Are you all as surprised as my husband that I read something that is not fiction or fantasy? Believe it or not I do have a few nonfiction/memoir type books hanging out on my shelves. It's not something I dive into often but it's nice to read something out of the ordinary once in a while.

I feel the need to begin by clearly stating that I did not finish The Naked Don't Fear the Water. All of my thoughts, feelings, and insights are up until page 227, about 60% of the way through the book. To be clear, it wasn't the story or poor writing that caused me to stop reading. Rather, it was the language used. I have clear lines for language and how much of it I will tolerate in a book. Once my maxes are met I put the book down, no matter what. This memoir doesn't have a cascading amount of swearing but it is sprinkled consistently throughout. If swearing doesn't bother you and you enjoy memoirs I would definitely recommend this book.

Overall, I found The Naked Don't Fear the Water to be very interesting and insightful. Having lived in the United States my entire life I feel that my knowledge of migrants and refugees is very narrow. I loved having my knowledge expanded and getting to see other points of view on this topic. I loved that Matthieu Aikins included snippets of other stories so that we get to see a range of reasons for migrating and how journeys differ so greatly.

The beginning of the novel moves a little slowly but once Omar and Matthieu begin their journey the drive to read picks up. I say that the beginning was slow because there were quite a few "side roads" that take you from the main narrative. These detours are usually historical facts or informational. The information is very interesting and is good to know as you get into the actual traveling. It was just a little distracting at some points. If the detour was long enough I found myself backtracking to see where the main story had left off.

Lastly, I loved that The Naked Don't Fear the Water had a map included at the beginning of the book. It helped me visualize where Omar and Matthieu were traveling, how far, and why they took certain types of transportation. It also helped me understand more about the boat crossings from Turkey to Greece and how the refugee camps were set up. Before you begin I strongly suggest placing a sticky note on the map so you can easily and quickly flip back and forth.

book tags

Language: farmer swears, F-words (x3), Lord's name in vain (x4)

Steam Level: clean

Trigger Warnings: none

Content Warnings: descriptions of refugee camp conditions, smoking, drinking

book information

Title: The Naked Don't Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees

Author: Matthieu Aikins

Rating: 3.5/5


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