The Water Dancer

The Water Dancer

A Novel

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. This is a bracingly original vision of the world of slavery, written with the narrative force of a great adventure. Driven by the author's bold imagination and striking ability to bring readers deep into the interior lives of his brilliantly rendered characters, The Water Dancer is the story of America's oldest struggle--the struggle to tell the truth--from one of our most exciting thinkers and beautiful writers"--
Publisher: New York : One World, ©2019.
ISBN: 9780399590597
Characteristics: 403 pages ;,25 cm.

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LPL_LeahN Jul 13, 2020

"The jump is done by the power of the story. It pulls from our particular histories, from all of our loves and all of our losses, all of that feeling is called up and on the strength of our remembrances, we are moved." This is Conduction.

This book is purely and simply a revelation. Ta-Nehisi Coates tells the story of one man's experiences with the legendary Underground with top shelf style and imagination. He turns a phrase like only a poet can, everything from the imagery of the deep south to the emotional turmoil of a freed man turned back to slavery serves as a means of reader Conduction to Lockless Plantation.

The ease with which the reader is immersed in this world make it one of the best works of magical realism I've ever read. But it's the story of Hiram and the Underground itself, tackling themes like ancestral rage, white allyship, and feminism that make it one of the most important.

a
AnnSkye
Jul 11, 2020

An excellent read.

a
amsites
Jul 10, 2020

I ended up renting the audio version and I’m so glad I did. It took a little bit to get into the book but once I did I loved it. It was also cool that it included some magical realism. I would suggest this book.

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mogie
Jul 10, 2020

I picked up this book upon recommendation. It was ok, thus 3 stars. I am not good with mysticism so would not likely have ever adored this book. It was a bit of a slog for me. I definitely could put it down. It was an interesting concept but my Virgo mind struggles with "the fantastic" as it were. I don't think that I will recommend this book to anyone and will likely forget I've read it among the many other stellar titles that I have read of late.

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fionajay
Jul 09, 2020

Incredibly moving story of the Tasked people at the unmerciful end of Virginian slavery, brutal yet beautiful; full of love, faith, and a little bit of ancient magic for good measure.

j
JANMAYS
May 15, 2020

Asian women diving for oysters. Nothing to write home about.

l
LindaChesnut
Apr 29, 2020

Wierd - that's about all one can say about it

s
skdawson
Mar 31, 2020

While the pacing was slow, I felt like it was part of the story that because Hiram remembered so many details in memories that they would need to be described in order to accomplish his point of view effectively. However, the slow pacing is my only negative comment. It is both beautiful and ugly, giving each character depth and showing the horror of slavery. I found the stories contained inside much like water themselves, a constant ebb and flow. Not what I imagined, but a novel I enjoyed nonetheless.

a
AnnieFofa
Mar 26, 2020

I found this a very difficult book to get enthused about reading. The “magical” aspect was a little too unbelievable. If I had not been forced to stay at home these weeks, I probably would not have finished reading it.

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Linyarai
Feb 27, 2020

I read this for the "Literary Fiction" part of my 2020 reading challenge. I expected to like this, I wish I had liked this, but I really didn't. I usually like historical fiction and fantasy and everything, but this was just really slow and lackluster. The second half was easier to get through than the first half, but I still felt really let down by this book.

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clancy_pants
Feb 13, 2020

'Way I see it, ain't no pure and it is we who are blessed, for we know this.'

'Blessed, huh?'

'Blessed, for we do not bear the weight of pretending pure[...]I would live down here among my losses, among the muck and mess of it, before I would ever live among those who are in their own kind of muck but are so blinded by it they fancy it pure. Ain't no pure[...]Ain't no clean.'" (293)

m
merritr
Feb 13, 2020

“Bored whites were barbarian whites. While they played at aristocrats, we were their well-appointed and stoic attendants. But when they tired of dignity, the bottom fell out. New games were anointed and we were but pieces on the board. It was terrifying. There was no limit to what they might do at this end of the tether, nor what my father [the white Master of the plantation] would allow them to do.”

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merritr
Feb 13, 2020

“The masters could not bring water to boil, harness a horse or strap their own drawers without us. We were better than them. We had to be. Sloth was literal death for us, while for them it was the whole ambition of their lives.”

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