The Water Dancer
In his boldly imagined first novel, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me, brings home the most intimate evil of enslavement: the cleaving and separation of families. Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known.So begins an unexpected journey 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, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.

The Water Dancer Details

TitleThe Water Dancer
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 24th, 2019
PublisherOne World
ISBN-139780399590597
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism

The Water Dancer Review

  • Chaima ✨ شيماء
    January 1, 1970
    *banging pots and pans together* HELLO I'D LIKE TO BRING EVERYONE'S ATTENTION TO THIS BOOK WHICH IS DESCRIBED AS:"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 *banging pots and pans together* HELLO I'D LIKE TO BRING EVERYONE'S ATTENTION TO THIS BOOK WHICH IS DESCRIBED AS:"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."TAKE MY MONEY!
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    4+starsAt its core, this novel is a story of slavery, the shameful injustice, horrific treatment of human beings, of the amazing guts and guile of the people in the Underground transporting people to freedom, in the south of the 1860’s. This is such a powerful story depicting the life of slaves on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, highlighting throughout the gut wrenching separation of children from their mothers, separation of fathers and children, husbands and wives. The writing is beautiful i 4+starsAt its core, this novel is a story of slavery, the shameful injustice, horrific treatment of human beings, of the amazing guts and guile of the people in the Underground transporting people to freedom, in the south of the 1860’s. This is such a powerful story depicting the life of slaves on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, highlighting throughout the gut wrenching separation of children from their mothers, separation of fathers and children, husbands and wives. The writing is beautiful in so many places that I found myself rereading passages. It’s a complex story infused with magical realism. It’s a creatively written story, but the magical realism wasn’t a problem for me given the beautiful prose when I found myself in these instances of “Conduction”. I do admit that I was a little confused at times about the Underground as portrayed here. Hiram Walker, called Hi, a slave, son of the plantation owner has the gift of memory, the ability to recall everything he sees and hears and reads when he learns to read, except one thing. He can’t remember his mother, sold by his father when Hi was nine years old. Hi has another gift, one he struggles to understand until he finds a place as an agent on the Underground. On Hi’s journey we meet a large cast of characters, some are courageous, some will touch your heart and there were some that I just couldn’t understand, but the journey is an amazing one. This isn’t a book for everyone because the magical realism may not be for you, but it’s an important and beautifully written story of slavery unlike anything I’ve read. It will hit you in the gut as it should and the characters will touch your heart with its depiction of family, of love, and the desire to be free. I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House/One World through NetGalley.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    If you've read his non fiction than you know what a powerfully this author writes. I was so curious about his first first foray into fiction. Would it be as good, as powerful? For me the answer is yes. This is a vividly portrayed and imaginative slave narrative. It takes place mostly in Virginia at a plantation called Lockless. Hiram is our narrator, he remembers little of his mother and he is the black son of the plantation owner. He also possesses a remarkable memory, and another unusual talen If you've read his non fiction than you know what a powerfully this author writes. I was so curious about his first first foray into fiction. Would it be as good, as powerful? For me the answer is yes. This is a vividly portrayed and imaginative slave narrative. It takes place mostly in Virginia at a plantation called Lockless. Hiram is our narrator, he remembers little of his mother and he is the black son of the plantation owner. He also possesses a remarkable memory, and another unusual talent, which I will not explain in this review. The life and brutality of the slave life is powerfully portrayed, the daily losses, the death of self. The slaves are called the tasked, and they yearn for connection, for freedom. Freedom takes an unusual turn here, and a little magical realism or substitution is employed. The characters, so many, even some of the quality are involved in the intense struggle for freedom. He also doesn't forget to mention all the disenfranchised, those yearning for a freedom not willing not given to them.A truly remarkable first novel, wonderful characters, steady pacing and s little something different that sets it apart.ARC from Netgalley.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    This book grabbed me from its first pages and never let me go. Hiram Walker is the son of a plantation owner. But he’s the black son, born to a slave and thus a slave himself. His mother was sold “Natchez way” when he was 9. After a near death experience as a young man, he plots to escape. Despite having a photographic memory, Hiram has lost his memories of his mother. It’s a literary device that really captures the loss of a family member to slavery . This book is so beautifully written it take This book grabbed me from its first pages and never let me go. Hiram Walker is the son of a plantation owner. But he’s the black son, born to a slave and thus a slave himself. His mother was sold “Natchez way” when he was 9. After a near death experience as a young man, he plots to escape. Despite having a photographic memory, Hiram has lost his memories of his mother. It’s a literary device that really captures the loss of a family member to slavery . This book is so beautifully written it takes your breath away in much the same way that the near drowning takes Hiram’s. It truly captures the horrors of slavery. I loved his use of words. Not slave and owner. But Tasked and Quality. Even the whites are designated as Quality or Low. “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 the 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 would allow them to do.”As can be expected, Hi is infuriated. He’s the smart one while is white half brother is a dullard, gambling away what’s left of the family fortune. Coates spells out for us the incredible suffering of being a slave. And he’s not talking physical suffering but the mental suffering of never being able to express yourself or allow yourself natural wants like a loving relationship. Coates uses magical realism as a plot device. It becomes a larger and larger part of the story as the book goes on. I struggled with this, more so when a well known historical character is given a certain mythical power. Similar to The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, one has to be willing to suspend belief. My other quibble is that he doesn’t set us firmly in time or place. We know that Virginia is in decline, the soil exhausted from years of tobacco. But I couldn’t tell how far before the Civil War we were. Or where in Virginia we were as there is no Goose River, Elm County or Brycetown. This is a pet peeve of mine and just a few sentences could have cleared things up. This is not a fast read. It needs to be pondered. I do feel it started much stronger than it finished. But it’s a very meaningful read and I would recommend it. My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book
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  • Chelsea Humphrey
    January 1, 1970
    Obviously I'm the worst at coming back to review those pesky RTC placeholders, but I felt the need to say a few words regarding this one. Even though I can't remember any specific quotes this far removed, I will always remember how moving the narrative is, how engaging the writing was, and how necessary, important, and timely this story will continue to be. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up!
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I’m in the minority here so read other people’s reviews.Up to around 35% I just loved this book.. then it went off into another direction and moved so very slow.. I kept going till 50% and could not bring myself to keep going. I’m giving it three stars because of the part that I loved!Thank you to Netgalley and One World for the opportunity to read this!
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars rounded up to 4 Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review If you've never experienced the beautiful magic of Ta-Nehisi Coates' writing, it's time to add him to your TBR. In his first steps into fiction, Coates brings us the tale of Hiram(Hi) Walker, a slave on a Virginia plantation in the mid-1800's. With little to no memory of his mother and the property of his white father, the owner of the plantation, Hiram soon finds 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review If you've never experienced the beautiful magic of Ta-Nehisi Coates' writing, it's time to add him to your TBR. In his first steps into fiction, Coates brings us the tale of Hiram(Hi) Walker, a slave on a Virginia plantation in the mid-1800's. With little to no memory of his mother and the property of his white father, the owner of the plantation, Hiram soon finds himself called to the big house to serve his half brother Maynard. As the boys grow, an incident will occur that will show Hiram his true inheritance and set him on a path towards freedom. I read this one at a fairly slow pace. A choice I made on purpose because of the seriousness of the subject matter. Coates shows the brutality of slavery, the dehumanizing nature in which people were "Tasked" and if they misbehaved or tried to escape were sold and sent "Natchez way." A novel that I eagerly anticipated and one which I hope many will pick up and join the conversation.Goodreads review published 02/09/19 Publication Date 24/09/19
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!4.5 StarsA beautifully shared story of the history of slavery, a world built by those purchased or born of those referred to as the Tasked under the watchful eyes of their owners, those of the Quality. While this time and place are difficult to read about, there’s a magical element to this that manages to create an atmosphere both hopeful and lovely, and helps to balance out the overall atmosphere. ”I am here, telling this story, and not from the grave, not yet, but from the !! NOW AVAILABLE !!4.5 StarsA beautifully shared story of the history of slavery, a world built by those purchased or born of those referred to as the Tasked under the watchful eyes of their owners, those of the Quality. While this time and place are difficult to read about, there’s a magical element to this that manages to create an atmosphere both hopeful and lovely, and helps to balance out the overall atmosphere. ”I am here, telling this story, and not from the grave, not yet, but from the here and now, peering back into another time, when we were slaves, and close to the earth, and close to a power that baffled the scholars and flummoxed the Quality, a power, like our music, like our dance, that they cannot grasp, because they cannot remember.” (To hear Ta-Nehisi Coates read this quote: https://video.vanityfair.com/watch/ta... )There is something about the writing that feels as though every word is so deliberately chosen to perfectly convey the emotions, actions and environments throughout this story, while creating this occasionally magical aura at the same time. There are multiple topics woven inside this novel about slavery, the breaking up of families as family members were sold off, the effect on those taken, and those left behind. The trauma of these losses affecting memories, affecting lives. Painful memories that Ta-Nehisi Coates shares with a tender compassion over time, while not sugar-coating any of the evilness of the actions, and allowing these characters, particularly Hiram, Hi, to not only remember but move beyond the pain associated with those memories. Love is another topic, both familial and romantic, and the precariousness of love for the Tasked. This has been compared to Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, since both have an “experimental” touch to them, but this was a much smoother read, for me. While Coates has written other non-fiction books, this is his debut novel, and I was impressed with how beautifully his passion shined through. Pub Date: 24 Sep 2019Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group - Random House – One World
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  • Candie
    January 1, 1970
    This is an absolutely beautiful book! The writing itself is stunning and a lot of work is put into absolutely every sentence. It deals with such heavy and heartbreaking topics and at times it is very hard to read, but also at times still feels optimistic that there are good things in this world worth fighting for such as love, family, connections, familiarity and home. This book took me a while to read as it is very deep and character driven. This is a slow story that you are meant to take your This is an absolutely beautiful book! The writing itself is stunning and a lot of work is put into absolutely every sentence. It deals with such heavy and heartbreaking topics and at times it is very hard to read, but also at times still feels optimistic that there are good things in this world worth fighting for such as love, family, connections, familiarity and home. This book took me a while to read as it is very deep and character driven. This is a slow story that you are meant to take your time with and really absorb and understand. The story line is good and moves along at a good pace but the things that makes this book different from other books on this topic is first the focus on people's thoughts and inner workings. How they felt, how they thought, what made them make the choices that they did. The deep personal thoughts really make this book very powerful as you can relate to the characters on an intimate level, it goes deeper than just the everyday lives and experiences of a slave. Second, it goes deeper and more broad into the politics, the freeing of slaves and the north versus the south; how it all commingled. Previous books I have read usually just focus on one particular plantation or town and the atrocities that happened in everyday life. There is a strong focus on the psychological effects of our experiences. Morality choices such as acting out of revenge and anger. Do they deserve it if they have seriously wronged you? Have you crossed a line? How every decision you make can snowball and unknowingly affect so many lives. Really separating what you think is best for somebody compared to what they want for themselves. How much your understanding of life, relationships and feelings change as you mature and experience more of life. It leaves you with a lot of things to think about and really ponder on.Of all the horrible things that were done to slaves, I must say that the thought of taking a mother's children away from her, really hits me hard. I had a really hard time reading that. I cannot even imagine having my children taken from me. Even writing those words my eyes are tearing up. Not sure about the magical realism parts of the book. I go back and forth on whether I liked that aspect or not. I feel like it is used as a portrayal of how our memories and experiences hold onto us and how important they are to help guide us in our future, but I personally felt like it took away from the story a bit. At times it confused me and I had to stop and get out of the story to think about it and I think it also slightly makes the true history of how hard people had to fight to get free seem a bit too easy.It is very obvious that a lot of work and research has gone into this book. The level of detail and understanding in his writing is amazing. A book I will absolutely not soon forget and definitely recommend. This will be a top seller, I am sure.Thank you so much to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for my ARC.
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  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    SPREAD THE WORD!START A RIOT!RUN THROUGH THE STREETSTHIS BOOK NEEDS TO WILL CERTAINLY BECOME A BESTSELLER
  • Betsy
    January 1, 1970
    Ta-Nehisi Coates is a genius. (Seriously, he’s got the MacArthur Fellowship to prove it.) I’ve read a lot of his previous work in The Atlantic, along with Between the World and Me, so I was excited to find out that he’s chosen to branch out into historical fiction with The Water Dancer. He’s a gifted writer, and his talent shines in any genre in which he chooses to write.The first thing that struck me in The Water Dancer was the level of detail in each sentence. It’s obvious that Coates informed Ta-Nehisi Coates is a genius. (Seriously, he’s got the MacArthur Fellowship to prove it.) I’ve read a lot of his previous work in The Atlantic, along with Between the World and Me, so I was excited to find out that he’s chosen to branch out into historical fiction with The Water Dancer. He’s a gifted writer, and his talent shines in any genre in which he chooses to write.The first thing that struck me in The Water Dancer was the level of detail in each sentence. It’s obvious that Coates informed his writing with thorough research, and he used this knowledge to infuse each line with details that vividly depict both the setting (antebellum America) and his characters’ thoughts, feelings, and emotions. The sentences themselves are carefully crafted and often complex—to digest what was happening, I had to slow my reading speed considerably. This isn’t because the prose is difficult, but more so because every sentence has a purpose. (There’s no filler material here, so don’t expect a light and fluffy beach read, and don’t expect to be able to skim.) Although it took work to read The Water Dancer, I was driven to find out where narrator Hiram Walker’s story would lead.The other striking thing about The Water Dancer is that while it details the cruelty and heartbreak of separating enslaved families, it remains optimistic at its core. The light mysticism/magic in the story is metaphorical—I think the intended message is that we must share common narratives and work toward things that are larger than ourselves. Only then can we move forward without erasing the lessons of the past.I loved reading the text of The Water Dancer, and done correctly, I think it has the potential to be a truly fantastic audiobook. Music is fundamental to this narrative, so careful treatment of the excerpts mentioned in the text could make this a stunning audio presentation. I’m interested in hearing what the publisher does with it.Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for providing me with a DRC of this novel, which will be available for purchase on September 24th.
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely beautiful, enchanting prose while relaying the deplorable horrors of slavery. The story follows Hiram's (Hi's) life from the time his mother was sold through the time he became what he was meant to be. Magical realism with its roots in Africa gives the story a paranormal twist that is fascinating. This is a powerful story and Coates makes the characters come alive.It's really hard to believe this is a first fiction attempt for the author. It is so beautifully written and carries the r Absolutely beautiful, enchanting prose while relaying the deplorable horrors of slavery. The story follows Hiram's (Hi's) life from the time his mother was sold through the time he became what he was meant to be. Magical realism with its roots in Africa gives the story a paranormal twist that is fascinating. This is a powerful story and Coates makes the characters come alive.It's really hard to believe this is a first fiction attempt for the author. It is so beautifully written and carries the reader into the story and the characters are so well drawn you feel you know them. Kudos to Coates!Thanks to Random House Publishing Group through Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Bam
    January 1, 1970
    *4.5 stars rounded up. I've read several novels on the subject of American slavery and the Underground Railroad. So what sets this one apart and makes it special? It's the touch of magical realism that Coates utilizes. What makes it a great book is the high quality of language, the complexity of theme, the depth of feeling. This is a book to be read slowly and savored. I won't soon forget these characters. I've previously read Coates' non-fiction books Between the World and Me and We Were Eight *4.5 stars rounded up. I've read several novels on the subject of American slavery and the Underground Railroad. So what sets this one apart and makes it special? It's the touch of magical realism that Coates utilizes. What makes it a great book is the high quality of language, the complexity of theme, the depth of feeling. This is a book to be read slowly and savored. I won't soon forget these characters. I've previously read Coates' non-fiction books Between the World and Me and We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, and rated both 5 stars, so I guess you could say I'm a fan of his writing. So happy to see his first venture into fiction resulted in such a remarkable story. Congratulations are in order. I was fortunate to receive an arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for my honest review. Many thanks!
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  • Jean
    January 1, 1970
    Who is The Water Dancer ? Early on in this lyrical tale we see images of black women dancing with jugs of water perched upon their heads, moving to release the tensions of their lives and celebrate the sense of family and community they share with one another despite their circumstances. It isn’t until much later that we see another water dancer, a true historical figure, and then, finally, another. He is the book’s central character, Hiram Walker.Hiram “Hi” Walker is a child when we first meet Who is The Water Dancer ? Early on in this lyrical tale we see images of black women dancing with jugs of water perched upon their heads, moving to release the tensions of their lives and celebrate the sense of family and community they share with one another despite their circumstances. It isn’t until much later that we see another water dancer, a true historical figure, and then, finally, another. He is the book’s central character, Hiram Walker.Hiram “Hi” Walker is a child when we first meet him, and all is revealed through his eyes, thoughts, and emotions. He shows us the unspeakable cruelties of slavery. He refers to as himself and his fellow slaves as “the Tasked.” The oppressors he calls “Quality.” Other whites who do not own slaves are the “Low.” As the illegitimate biracial son of the estate owner, he moves between the two worlds, yet he has no power, no freedom. I had never before read any work by Coates, and I was enthralled. He writes with so much care and attention. Intention. The plantation is called Lockless. The Deep South, where slavery rules, is “the Coffin.” The slave quarters are “the Street.” There is a key figure called “Moses.”As Hiram’s life changes, so does he. The people he meets, the challenges he masters, and the relationships he forges morph him from a boy into a man. At one point, Hi states that to task is to wear a mask. Being with folks in the Underground helped him find his true self and made him feel like he was with family. The Water Dancer may be set in the 1800s with at least one real historical figure, but it is so much more than historical fiction. It is filled with allegory and symbolism. It is a tale of struggle to overcome cruelty and bondage. It is the saga of humanity’s thirst for freedom and equality. It is also about hope, because despite the harsh conditions and inhumane treatment, this book is filled with dreams for a better future. There is so much pain and suffering, but there is also love and joy. There are so many memorable characters, Task, Quality, and free. Some are good-hearted. Some are not. All are part of Hiram Walker’s story.This book brought me to tears. Tears for what so many suffered. Tears for the injustices now in our country, at our border, and throughout the world. When Hiram’s mother was sold, his memories of her were stolen along with her. In order to reach his full potential, Hiram must retrieve and face his deepest, most painful memories. This is where Ta-Nehisi Coates truly shines. He paints several amazing scenes to prepare us for that final moment. The imagery is simple, yet creative and tremendously powerful. I wonder if Mr. Coates is challenging us all to face our deepest fears as individuals and as a nation so that we can shake off the chains that restrain us and become freer, more loving, and more generous. Hiram Walker is a very well spoken young man with beautiful heart and soul. We should listen to his story with our whole beings. It is not a swift, easy read, but it is a wondrous piece of literature.My thanks to NetGalley, One World, and the author for this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.5 stars
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  • Sarah-Hope
    January 1, 1970
    I've known for years that Coates can write great nonfiction, and it turns out he writes fiction that is equally insightful and precise. Every sentence is a gem, so I had the pleasure of slowing down my reading to savor each one. Coates uses a sci-fi mechanism to explore life under slavery. Breaking the rules of our "known" world was a risky choice, in that it could have made the issue of slavery feel distant. Instead, his imaginative moves add to the vividness of the reader's experience. This bo I've known for years that Coates can write great nonfiction, and it turns out he writes fiction that is equally insightful and precise. Every sentence is a gem, so I had the pleasure of slowing down my reading to savor each one. Coates uses a sci-fi mechanism to explore life under slavery. Breaking the rules of our "known" world was a risky choice, in that it could have made the issue of slavery feel distant. Instead, his imaginative moves add to the vividness of the reader's experience. This book will make you think. It will make you feel. No matter who you are, it will teach you. I highly recommend this for individual reading and for book groups.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.The setting of this book was absolutely impeccable. I haven't read many novels about slavery in America (I'm Canadian, so it's not a huge part of our school curriculum or an aspect of history I personally studied), but this book is definitely an excellent exploration of that time period from the perspective of a slave. Nothing is overly explained, but there is very clear imagery about how status an An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.The setting of this book was absolutely impeccable. I haven't read many novels about slavery in America (I'm Canadian, so it's not a huge part of our school curriculum or an aspect of history I personally studied), but this book is definitely an excellent exploration of that time period from the perspective of a slave. Nothing is overly explained, but there is very clear imagery about how status and race works. I loved Hiram's perspective on the Tasked (slaves) and Quality (the high-born whites who own slaves), and Hiram himself is a sympathetic and bright narrator, if sometimes naive or overly wishful. That said, I sometimes stumbled upon the narration and prose. Coates can write beautifully, and there were many passages I found incredibly well-written - ideas about slavery and human nature laid bare in such devastating clarity. But there were simultaneously points that just lost me in the narrative, making me go back to reread in order to understand what was happening. The aspects of magical realism were also a bit lost on me; magical realism can be a hit or miss, and I don't quite think I connected with it here.I am putting the book aside at about 60%, but with the hope of returning to it again in the future.Blog | Twitter | Instagram
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  • Andre
    January 1, 1970
    The prose is magjestic(not a typo, a combination of magnificent and majestic). And the reason why I lead with that is simply, the magjesty(not a typo)will keep you going when this bold and very ambitious novel drags a little under the weight of the challenge of crafting a story about the ills and evils of slavery, without the loudness.“It always happened like this—that is what I had been told. Bored whites were barbarian whites. While they played at aristocrats, we were their well-appointed and The prose is magjestic(not a typo, a combination of magnificent and majestic). And the reason why I lead with that is simply, the magjesty(not a typo)will keep you going when this bold and very ambitious novel drags a little under the weight of the challenge of crafting a story about the ills and evils of slavery, without the loudness.“It always happened like this—that is what I had been told. 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 would allow them to do.”The foundation of this novel is slavery, and the story is told in a whisper, not a shout, but it so fits the protagonist Hiram Walker. Hiram is the enslaved son of the master, Howell Walker on Lockless, a tobacco plantation in Virginia. In a nod to that whisper I mentioned, Coates avoids the use of master, masters, slaves, enslaved, etc. instead of employing those terms so familiar to us all concerning slavery, Coates boldly creates a new language referring to the master class as the “Quality” and the enslaved as the “tasked.”An interesting choice of terms that speaks to ambition and boldness, no? Although Hiram Walker is tasked in the house of his father and enjoys some ‘privilege’ he still pines for freedom. “So as to my freedom, the events stood thus: I knew that I would never advance beyond my blood-bound place at Lockless.”In his quest for freedom, there are some costly miscalculations and Hiram suffers some setbacks that lead to greater comebacks as he becomes active in the famed Underground Railroad. Hiram is blessed with the power of conduction, not just in the regular sense of the word, but in a magical realism sense. He has experienced this power in him during a near death drowning at Lockless, but has never learned how to harness this power at his demand. That all changes, when he meets none other than Moses herself, Harriet Tubman while working the underground. I find it very curious to write this conduction business as magical realism(for lack of a better term) because I think it diminishes all the courageous and daring actions taken by those on their way to freedom. It feels dismissive of what one had to endure to reach freedom, and in some ways denies the obvious brilliance and bravery of a Harriet Tubman who chose to return to the coffin(slavery in the Deep South) again and again and..... I love Coates’ writing but I am not enamored with that choice.Having said that, I still enthusiastically recommend this novel, just superbly written with a cast of engaging characters, some intrigue, some thrills, and yes some horror, but not written horrifically( the whispering). I’m certain this book will garner a multitude of discussion and commerce. Ta-Nehisi Coates can now confidently add novelist to his writing career! Thanks to Netgalley and OneWorld-Random House Publishing for an ARC. Book is out 9/24/2019.
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  • Kaleah
    January 1, 1970
    "...the story of America's oldest struggle-the struggle to tell the truth..."This sounds so good, I can't believe it isn't on more people's radar!
  • Walker Iversen
    January 1, 1970
    It's clear this is a first novel by an established writer of a different genre. The prose is clunky in places and too much time is devoted to less interesting action. Despite those reservations, there is some really lovely work here, some imagery and metaphors that feel very resonant.
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  • Monica **can't read fast enough**
    January 1, 1970
    The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a skillfully written fictionalized slave narrative told in Coates' unique voice. It slowly unfolds with details and dialogue that exposes the raw pain, horror, and abuse of the Tasked. Coates also puts on full display the perseverance of enslaved people to hold their own sense of worth and desire for freedom despite their daily pervasive injustices and how it molds who the characters are at their core. Coates made his characters relatable in their dreams, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a skillfully written fictionalized slave narrative told in Coates' unique voice. It slowly unfolds with details and dialogue that exposes the raw pain, horror, and abuse of the Tasked. Coates also puts on full display the perseverance of enslaved people to hold their own sense of worth and desire for freedom despite their daily pervasive injustices and how it molds who the characters are at their core. Coates made his characters relatable in their dreams, fears, and flaws. There's goodness and selfishness shown in varying degrees in all of them.The one thing that all of the characters seem to share is a desire for full agency over their bodies as well as their destinies.One of the most impactful things that occurs in the book for me happens to Hiram in the very beginning. With the selling of his mother, this nine year old child with a brilliant memory and ability to remember the tiniest of details is so traumatized by her loss that he can no longer remember what she looks like. He can only conjure her image as a hazy indistinct figure. Hi's memories of her disappear as a means of protecting himself from the pain of her memory. For a child to lose the memories of the person who was the center of his world as a means of self preservation just stole my breath. So yes, my heart was broken within the first twenty pages of the book. I'm not going into any more details of this book because this is one I hope people get to go into a little blind so that the experience isn't ruined. This isn't a book that you will fly through in a day. It's a story that demands that you take your time and sit with what Coates is exposing you to. I'm not an avid literary fiction reader, I sometimes find it a burden to slog through what so many consider beautiful prose and artfully woven passages. However, even I can recognize when my reader's heart is touched by a story that is so well written that it won't let me go and The Water Dancer has done just that. It gave me absolutely everything that I expected to get from a writer like Ta-Nehisi Coates.This is a favorite read and I highly recommend it to every reader. ***I received a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.***Where you can find me:•(♥).•*Monlatable Book Reviews*•.(♥)•Twitter: @monicaisreadingInstagram: @readermonicaGoodreads Group: The Black Bookcase
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  • Sareeta
    January 1, 1970
    I thoroughly enjoyed The Water Dancer and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in a unique, accessible story about slavery. Stories about slavery tend to be quite dark, horrific, and rightfully upsetting, which can make them difficult to read. Thankfully this book strikes a nice balance between revealing those horrors and examining the psychological impact on those who lived through them, while also providing moments of joy, happiness, and most importantly: hope. Hope that the characte I thoroughly enjoyed The Water Dancer and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in a unique, accessible story about slavery. Stories about slavery tend to be quite dark, horrific, and rightfully upsetting, which can make them difficult to read. Thankfully this book strikes a nice balance between revealing those horrors and examining the psychological impact on those who lived through them, while also providing moments of joy, happiness, and most importantly: hope. Hope that the characters will not only survive, but live to enjoy a life of peace and purpose. First off, the cover art is beautiful. I don’t know how the final release will look, but my copy includes three renderings of a boy swimming in the water, with beautiful shades of blue and black. Being the first book that I have read by Ta-Nehisi Coates, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I liked that Coates incorporated elements of magical realism into this novel, which covers the harsh subject matter of slavery. I was never taken out of the moment and the fantastical elements never detracted or diminished the story. It allowed for moments that stunned me and left me wondering how much is real, how much is fantastical, and how the lines can often blur depending on the perspective. In terms of writing style, I was struck by Coates’ choice to refer to slaves as The Task, wealthy white slave-owners as The Quality, and referring to certain places and locations with terms that lend a mystical or mythical quality, such as Natchez-Way, Lockless, The Street, The Coffin, etc. Also, I appreciated the story and chapter structure, with easily digestible chapters that don’t always end on a cliff-hanger so much as a point where the reader may want to pause and really consider what they have just read. The characters are ones who will stay with me for a long time. There is our main character, Hiram (Hi), a tasking boy who has grown up without knowing his mother or what happened to her. Aside from faint glimmers of a woman dancing with a water jug balanced atop her head, this woman Hi so desperately wants to know is blocked from his memory. Hi has an infectious personality that wins over both his fellow slaves as well as the Quality, and his intelligence and memory recall are seen as an interesting quirk that delights those around him. Soon, Hi discovers that he has the ability to travel various distances, though he doesn’t understand this ability or manage to control it at first, but he realizes it is somehow connected to the gaps in his memories about his mother. Other characters who I was deeply moved by were Thena, who took care of Hi after his mother disappeared from his life, Mr. Walker, the owner of Lockless, Hi’s love interest, Sophia, who is not merely relegated to the love interest role – she is given a voice and speaks to her suffering, desires, and what freedom means to her in a way that will resonate especially with female readers. We gain the female perspective from not only the tasking women, but also some members of the Quality. We are reminded that while life was infinitely worse for the slaves, even white women suffered many indignities. Throughout the book, we learn about what life is like for Hi and the other Task at Lockless. As one would expect, there is much suffering, but Coates also shares moments of warmth and joy even amidst such a difficult life. One of the common themes is family, not only the one you are born to, but your chosen family, friends, and community and how they impact the person you are and will become. I appreciated the moments in the novel when Hi has a chance to internalize and express what it really means to be a slave. There is not only the physical aspects of being used for hard labor, the punishments, beatings, and rapes, but also discussion of the emotional and mental abuse – how being brought up in a world where you are literally seen as a piece of property whose spouses and children can be bought and sold depending on the mood or financial disposition of the master impacts the psyche of a person. Hi’s life eventually intersects with The Underground. The shift to the simmering Underground movement allows for not only a change in scenery, but also an injection of energy and hope. The Water Dancer is one of my favorite reads of 2019 and I hope it gains a wide audience and favorable reviews. Books on the topic of slavery can be difficult to read, by their very nature, but by focusing on Hi – his story, his thoughts, his struggles, and his triumphs, and by using elements of magical realism and fantasy to tell the story, this book should resonate with a broad audiences, but also audiences who enjoy books about the history of slavery AND the fantasy genre. Disclaimer: I won this ARC from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Mimi
    January 1, 1970
    Ta-Nehisi Coates has presented his unique perspective on the brutality of slavery in the mid-1800s. The Water Dancer is told from the POV of Hiram (Hi) Walker, the son of a plantation owner and a black slave. Through his mother’s family, there is the possibility that Hi has inherited some unique magical abilities that can be traced back to his grandmother, Santi Bess, about whom it is told that sheexecuted the largest escape of tasking folk [i.e., slaves] – forty-eight souls - ever recorded in t Ta-Nehisi Coates has presented his unique perspective on the brutality of slavery in the mid-1800s. The Water Dancer is told from the POV of Hiram (Hi) Walker, the son of a plantation owner and a black slave. Through his mother’s family, there is the possibility that Hi has inherited some unique magical abilities that can be traced back to his grandmother, Santi Bess, about whom it is told that sheexecuted the largest escape of tasking folk [i.e., slaves] – forty-eight souls - ever recorded in the annals of Elm County. And it was not simply that they had escaped but where they’d been said to escape to . .The Underground [Railroad] wants to know if Hi will also be able to effect similar escapes. As Hi explores his heritage and tries to remember his mother (who was sold when he was nine-years-old), he is also trying to find his place among the Tasked and among the Quality.This is a highly creative telling, starting with a quote from abolitionist Frederick Douglass: “My part has been to tell the story of the slave. The story of the master never wanted for narrators.” And in The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehisi Coates does just that . . . he tells the story of the slave in a most creative, extraordinary fashion. This is an engrossing and gripping novel, well worth reading.Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    Gorgeous. Devastating. Complex. Succinct. Poetic. Ta-Nehisi Coates's first novel is a marvel. Having read most of his writing (in long and short form), this piece of fiction admirably embodies many of his thoughts and feelings regarding the African American "experience" in the United States (quoted here mostly to demonstrate the insufficiency of such a word to describe situations that are indescribable - particularly to a white-passing reader such as myself). There is much to unpack from Coates' Gorgeous. Devastating. Complex. Succinct. Poetic. Ta-Nehisi Coates's first novel is a marvel. Having read most of his writing (in long and short form), this piece of fiction admirably embodies many of his thoughts and feelings regarding the African American "experience" in the United States (quoted here mostly to demonstrate the insufficiency of such a word to describe situations that are indescribable - particularly to a white-passing reader such as myself). There is much to unpack from Coates's pages. In fact, I'm sure we will see more than a couple dissertations that include an interpretation of The Water Dancer as an addition and subversion of "slave narratives" - another insufficient term conveying experiences that are difficult to behold, never mind inherit. What I have always felt about Coates's work is how rigorously he connects the abstract with the tangible, with the bodily. Hearing interviews with this brilliant man, he often makes a point to talk about the physicality of oppression; the systematic exclusion and oppression of African Americans has had much to do with controlling black bodies in a variety of ways. This novel explores this notion while simultaneously giving credence and respect to the life experiences of the African Americans enslaved in the Land of the Free (it's hard not to comment on how deliberate the Framers were in envisioning freedom as being exclusive). And from this exploration emerges, for me, two themes.(1) The institution of slavery necessarily connected African Americans to America's land, making them the true progenitors of the country (speaking strictly within an American context -- since the truest progenitors of "American land" are indigenous Natives). We might see Coates's connection of African Americans to land as one of many clear premises that logically make the case for reparations - a connection to one of his most preeminent essays. The novel's most poetic moments come from descriptions of the land of Lockless - the orchards, the fields, the sun. The Tasked have a nearly preternatural understanding and respect for the land. This connection is the condition by which many of the landowning white men (the Quality) achieve and maintain economic power. Of course it is the Tasked who clearly foresee the decline of Lockless and Elm County, Virginia most clearly. (2) Power derives from the intersection of memory and story. We see through, most particularly with Howell Walker and Hiram Walker but also with others, that wealthy whites (and low whites, too) sought to maintain order and control by shaping narratives in a way that preserved the status quo. The entirety of the plot is really concerned with Hiram Walker's separation from himself through the extinguishing of his memory of the past. It is the unearthing of the trauma, namely family separation, that promises Hiram the power of Conduction. Family separation, in this novel, is less about economic survival and more about maintaining power by robbing African Americans of their connections; it is clear that Coates takes the separation of families to be about stripping African Americans of their freedom, since the denial of connections and increased isolation makes insurrection that much more implausible. Such a premise gives rise to the power and beauty of the novel's concept of liberation, namely Conduction. I feel like I could write all sorts of essays about this novel. I could write about its beauty and its singular conception of the American landscape. I could write about how you could read this book multiple times (particularly the dialogue) and walk away with a new and important understanding about the history of America as a country. I could write about the nature of "war" and how standardized concepts and teachings about this time still relegate African American enslaved people as powerless which feels like the re-enforcement of U.S. society. Or I could just write about how I savored each page and read select passages out loud. And how powerful I found so many of the conversations between the characters. I ached when I thought about all that wasn't said in the pages of his novel. And I ached when it was over.
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  • bookedconfidential
    January 1, 1970
    This was a beautifully written book! Definitely not a quick read for me - it took me awhile to get into it and then, feeling like I could only read a little at a time, I began reading it each morning with my coffee. I really enjoyed seeing how Coates approached memory, family, and black masculinity (all commonly addressed in fiction regarding American chattel slavery) in slightly new ways. I could see some hearkening back to Morrison's Beloved, which I appreciated, as well as nuanced discussions This was a beautifully written book! Definitely not a quick read for me - it took me awhile to get into it and then, feeling like I could only read a little at a time, I began reading it each morning with my coffee. I really enjoyed seeing how Coates approached memory, family, and black masculinity (all commonly addressed in fiction regarding American chattel slavery) in slightly new ways. I could see some hearkening back to Morrison's Beloved, which I appreciated, as well as nuanced discussions of the relationships between men and women. There were times when I found Hiram a difficult protagonist. Because he often comes across as emotionally closed off and because I personally always prefer reading female protagonists I sometimes grew frustrated with him. However, his development arc is rooted in this particular aspect of his character and Coates does an excellent job with that trajectory. It's gratifying to see the growth in Hiram, but I felt primed for some bigger reveal at the end of the book than what was given.I'm going to be a bit vague here, because I don't want to give anything away, but I do want to note Coates's handling of white underground agents was really fascinating. He does an excellent job of articulating how the fanatical interest of some white people in freeing slaves is still somewhat rooted in not seeing slaves as people so much as stand-ins for moral righteousness, which is still rooted in an unhealthy power dynamic and can potentially be a slippery slope. While this sort of zealousness can be harnessed for good, Coates seems to be underlining the necessity of interrogating the differences between how black and white people think about anti-racism and anti-racist activism. It could be the difference between seeing anti-racism as a philosophical moral pursuit and seeing it as a matter of life or death. I wouldn't say this message is thematically central in the book, but it feels really timely to me so I wanted to highlight it.
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  • Celine
    January 1, 1970
    The Water Dancer is am imaginative, poignant, and rich demonstration of story-telling (as if we needed another reminder of Ta-Nehisi Coates' brilliance!) Things I loved about this book, apart from the extremely multi-layered characters and vivid imagery, were: 1. Coates' dissection of the many impacts of slavery on those who experience it. Not just the physical horrors of slavery, but the emotional horrors as well. How it changes the way you see the world, numbs you, the emotional contortions th The Water Dancer is am imaginative, poignant, and rich demonstration of story-telling (as if we needed another reminder of Ta-Nehisi Coates' brilliance!) Things I loved about this book, apart from the extremely multi-layered characters and vivid imagery, were: 1. Coates' dissection of the many impacts of slavery on those who experience it. Not just the physical horrors of slavery, but the emotional horrors as well. How it changes the way you see the world, numbs you, the emotional contortions that are necessary to simply survive from day to day. Thena's story, in particular, was an especially brutal depiction of this (as was Georgie's). The emotional scars of "The Task" are a constant theme throughout the story. 2. Coates' dissection of the impacts of slavery on those who impose, reinforce, and witness it. This is depicted through the stories of white characters: Corinne, the Low Whites, and Hi's father, Mr. Walker. These were all fascinating characters that I could probably spend weeks writing about, but won't include too many spoilers for folks. So many parallels to current-day actors, though (white liberals, poor white folks, white folks who care but still reinforce systems in place). And you see the toll that "The Task" takes on all of these characters. The way it wears them, the lies they tell themselves to justify their actions, the restrictions they self-impose to redeem their association with their race. There is black and white hatred for The Tasked in the book, but there are also deeper contortions in the gray characters as well. 3. The clearly intentional use of language throughout the book. The word "slave" (to my recollection) was never used, and the word "slavery" used but rarely. Instead Coates refers to slavery as "The Task" and those who are forced to live in slavery as "The Tasked." White slave-masters and their caste are "The Quality." If i ever get the chance to attend a reading with Ta-Nehisi Coates and ask one question about the book, it would undoubtedly be about these word choices. Were they simply to get away from typical language found in other historical fiction books? I hate the world slave, so I fully support this reasoning and decision, but I can't help wonder if there wasn't more to this choice. It was one of the things that struck me most, as small as it may seem.In the end, Coates really has done something incredible here. Captured a glimpse of slavery's never-ending grasp - how it rips through every aspect of society and person - all done through the true artistry of story-telling. It's a gripping demonstration of the power of story and all that story-telling is able to communicate (and for those who are worried that the mystical portions of the book take away from the story's realities, don't worry. It doesn't). Well done, Mr. Coates. Well done. Note: I received a free, pre-release copy of this book via GoodReads giveaways.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    This is a brilliant and beautiful book. I have never read any of Ta-Nehisi Coates' other work, so I was unprepared to be so blown away by his beautiful prose and creative storytelling. The Water Dancer is the story of Hiram, a slave who is tasked with the care of his half-brother, the overly-indulged heir of the plantation. After narrowly escaping death by drowning, Hiram realizes that he is meant to be free, and makes plans to escape. His decision sets events in motion that span counties, state This is a brilliant and beautiful book. I have never read any of Ta-Nehisi Coates' other work, so I was unprepared to be so blown away by his beautiful prose and creative storytelling. The Water Dancer is the story of Hiram, a slave who is tasked with the care of his half-brother, the overly-indulged heir of the plantation. After narrowly escaping death by drowning, Hiram realizes that he is meant to be free, and makes plans to escape. His decision sets events in motion that span counties, states, and years as Hiram enlists in the Underground Railroad and fights for freedom and restoration. The first thing to know is that this story is not meant to be a fast-paced thriller. The descriptions in the story are inviting and delicious. They draw the reader into Hiram's world and describe a detailed world that in some ways is unfamiliar to us today, but also could be uncomfortably familiar for a society that claims to be so far past the atrocities of the slavery era. One of my favorite things about the book was the way that Coates used Hiram's inner musings to sprinkle profound thoughts throughout the story. There were several times that I had to stop and ponder what I had just read. It's definitely a story that is meant to be slowly savored and enjoyed.Another thing that is especially enjoyable is the characters. They are all so meaningful, and there's rich analysis to be found by examining who the characters and what they may represent. I also found myself deeply caring for so many of them. It's been a long time since I felt truly devastated by the setbacks and grief experienced by characters in a book. I also loved that this book doesn't fit snugly in the historical fiction genre. It's based off of real places and things (and there's even an appearance of at least one real historical figure), but Coates re-imagines them in a unique way that completely fits the context of the story. It also has elements of magical realism that work so well with the purpose of the story. It's not historical fiction as we're used to, but it's new and beautiful and delightful. Overall, this is a book that will captivate you, make you think, and stir your heart. It seems like there is already a good amount of buzz about the book, and I really hope that the momentum continues. It's one of those stories that truly deserves all the attention it could possibly receive. I'm also now a dedicated reader of Mr. Coates, and I look forward to enjoying whatever his future projects may be!I'm grateful to Ta-Nehisi Coates, Random House Publishing Group, and NetGalley for allowing me an opportunity to read and honestly review this book!
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  • Elle Rudy
    January 1, 1970
    In Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, he wrote on the idea of serious writers and their characters being white. Classic literature has been taught to us as historically being by white men about white culture, where other perspectives are interpreted as inferior. At one point, Coates considered a question by Saul Bellow that asks who the Tolstoy of the Zulus is. Later, he accepted the response by Ralph Wiley, “Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus,” and in that sentiment affirmed that stor In Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, he wrote on the idea of serious writers and their characters being white. Classic literature has been taught to us as historically being by white men about white culture, where other perspectives are interpreted as inferior. At one point, Coates considered a question by Saul Bellow that asks who the Tolstoy of the Zulus is. Later, he accepted the response by Ralph Wiley, “Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus,” and in that sentiment affirmed that stories by black authors about black characters matter just as much as white ones, but without reducing them to merely a ‘black version’ of their counterparts. Though he’s written both Black Panther and Captain America’s comic series, this is Coates’ first full-length fictional work. Taking place during the middle of the 19th century, Hiram is a member of the Tasked in Virginia. He serves the Quality until he attempts to join the Underground and discovers the power of Conduction. The terms used are intuitive and historical, stemming from language used in the old south by both slaveholders and those enslaved. Most characters are created by the author, but historical locations, events and figures are skillfully interwoven with the magical realism of the novel to create a truly remarkable story.Coates is a talented writer, and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read of his. But, the beginning especially, was pretty slow going. Eventually the plot picks up a bit, but there were so many breaks in the story where Hiram would reflect deeply, and he felt like a stand-in for the author to have yet another introspection. These ideas seem to work so much better in Coates’ non-fiction books, but at times took away from the overall narrative he was trying to tell here. The book could have been much shorter without taking away anything crucial.I did enjoy it overall, though, and this was an excellent debut novel for an already very accomplished author.*Thanks to Random House & Netgalley for an advance copy!
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  • K
    January 1, 1970
    tl;dr: THIS IS GOOD AND YOU SHOULD READ IT. I made myself read Between the World and Me before reading this book, since I had kept putting it off. The hype is real. The first novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates is not just a read, it's an experience. I really needed this sort of book to help me stay optimistic in these dark times, while reminding us that we still need to acknowledge memories (even if times are bad) because they drive us and make us stronger, better people. Racism, slavery, low whites, sep tl;dr: THIS IS GOOD AND YOU SHOULD READ IT. I made myself read Between the World and Me before reading this book, since I had kept putting it off. The hype is real. The first novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates is not just a read, it's an experience. I really needed this sort of book to help me stay optimistic in these dark times, while reminding us that we still need to acknowledge memories (even if times are bad) because they drive us and make us stronger, better people. Racism, slavery, low whites, separation of families (especially children) --- same issues, different century, all covered in this book. I can't pick a favorite character. Hiram, Thena, Sophia, and Corrine were so well-rounded, and the special cameo by a historical figure was used well. I particularly appreciate how the historical figure was not abused as a plot device or used as an excuse to skimp on fleshing out his own characters. I need to let this sink in before a re-read, and hopefully by then the inevitable film adaptation will do it justice. (I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
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  • sylvie
    January 1, 1970
    The Water DancerVirginia, tobacco fields who once enriched the masters and brought on the slave trade, see their land striped to sand, their mansions crumbling.Slaves are sold, families separated, children sold from their mothers, all send Natchez - way, Tennessee, Missouri, where masters with lucrative land are in need of Taskers...slaves.A lineI heard stories of white men who bought colored men to enact their wildest pleasures - white men who kept them locked away for the sheer thrill of being The Water DancerVirginia, tobacco fields who once enriched the masters and brought on the slave trade, see their land striped to sand, their mansions crumbling.Slaves are sold, families separated, children sold from their mothers, all send Natchez - way, Tennessee, Missouri, where masters with lucrative land are in need of Taskers...slaves.A lineI heard stories of white men who bought colored men to enact their wildest pleasures - white men who kept them locked away for the sheer thrill of being able to.AboutHiram, a child without a mother he can remember, a child, a slave who's father is the master. We will travel many ways with Hiram on his road to find his mother, on his road to find freedom for many. I spend 4 days with Hi as he calls himself and found myself missing him.A FactYou will have to wait till the end to know what happened to Hiram's mother, well worth the wait.I loved this novel based on facts, so well written...so many truth.A must read
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  • Diana
    January 1, 1970
    This is interesting, but it doesn’t quite come together as a novel. I read for character, and I don’t think these characters are fully realized. There were some parts I really liked, particularly those set in Philadelphia. A week after being really interested in the history of Washington Square, and looking it up, I found myself across the country, sitting at a cafe next to the square with a friend. And I loved the narrator, Hiram’s, first heady new experience of freedom. I found that part reall This is interesting, but it doesn’t quite come together as a novel. I read for character, and I don’t think these characters are fully realized. There were some parts I really liked, particularly those set in Philadelphia. A week after being really interested in the history of Washington Square, and looking it up, I found myself across the country, sitting at a cafe next to the square with a friend. And I loved the narrator, Hiram’s, first heady new experience of freedom. I found that part really moving.
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