The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

It’s impossible to do justice to The Water Dancer (2019) in a book review. The story is powerful and haunting, the characters are expertly and thoughtfully portrayed throughout, and the time period and settings are drawn such that I felt that I was viewing the horrors of slavery on a Virginia plantation and experiencing the terrifying dangers of the flight to freedom. I couldn’t help but become emotionally invested in the main character, Hiram Walker, a highly intelligent young slave whose white father is the owner of the plantation, and whose mother was a slave who was sold away when Hiram was 9 years old.

I typically like fast-paced novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its slow, deliberate pacing and elegant, detailed descriptions along the way. Magical realism is another element that I don’t typically like, but Ta-Nehisi Coates uses it expertly as an intriguing aspect of the Underground Railroad. There are many fascinating characters, including Harriet Tubman. I highly recommend this incredible heartbreaking, yet hopeful novel!

Written by Denise, Adult Services