The Water Dancer

The Water Dancer

Book - 2019
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Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage--and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child--but he is also gifted with a mysterious power. Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn't understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away. This strange brush with death forces a new urgency on Hiram's private rebellion. Spurred on by his improvised plantation family, Thena, his chosen mother, a woman of few words and many secrets, and Sophia, a young woman fighting her own war even as she and Hiram fall in love, he becomes determined to escape the only home he's ever known. So begins an unexpected journey into the covert war on slavery that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia's proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he's enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, all Hiram wants is to return to the Walker Plantation to free the family he left behind--but to do so, he must first master his magical gift and reconstruct the story of his greatest loss.
Publisher: New York : One World, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780399590597
Branch Call Number: F COATES
Characteristics: 403 pages ; 25 cm


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Oct 18, 2019

Phew- I finally finished this book. This was such a slow read for me. I usually finish a book in a few days. This one took me 2 weeks. I just wasn’t drawn back to the story. I found myself finding something else to do like watching Netflix instead of going back to the book. Not sure why. I normally like historical fiction set in this time period, and Hiram wasn’t a bad character, but something just didn’t click with me and this book. It might have been that there was a lot of contemplation in this book and not enough action and dialogue to move it along at a better pace. I’m sure a lot of Oprah book club fans will love it, but it didn’t live up to the hype for me.

STPL_JessH Oct 02, 2019

Well, I have to say that the first half of this book was absolutely everything I wanted from Ta-Nehsisi Coates' debut novel. The writing is absolutely transformative. I read slowly so I could savor each luscious description. I was thrilled by the nuance and the careful way Coates layers story upon story.

That said, I did not enjoy the last half of the book as much. While the idea is intriguing and has great potential, the execution was a bit flawed. I found myself confused by what was occurring and I think part of that reveals Coates' limitations as a debut novelist. As soon as he departs from realistic fiction and wades into magic realism, the quality of the writing begins to change. Magic realism demands artistry and while Coates writes beautifully, I was unconvinced in many moments of the text. It was such a stark departure from the painstakingly detailed world Coates crafted in the first half of the book. I also agree with other reviewers that the ending is a bit too tidy. I found it unsatisfying considering the amount of emotion, memory, and weight the first half of the book carried.

Overall, I absolutely recommend this book and will continue to eagerly await what Coates publishes next.

Sep 29, 2019

I’d like to read this series of books. Can I please be emailed with the notification when it becomes available for pickup?

debwalker Sep 17, 2019

Who gets to be an American hero? Ta-Nehisi Coates (author, journalist, comic book writer) infuses historical fiction with magic.


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