I read The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates over the course of two sleepless nights, which did nothing to help my insomnia because I couldn’t put this thoughtful book down.
Hiram Walker’s father is a plantation owner and his mother is a slave who was sold by his father when Hiram was just 9 years old. Hiram has an incredible gift of memory and can recall the details of literally everything - except for his mom. In this book, memory is a super power, which is a concept that kept me curious. As the novel progresses, we are alongside Hiram on his journey as he experiences a near drowning, uses his super power to his advantage, and explores facing a new sense of urgency.
I expected this novel to be about slavery and families, which it was. I was not expecting magical realism, a significant metaphor, a lengthy cast of characters, and long winded prose, as well. There were a few times I felt confused by the characters and the message, but it’s possible that could have been because I was reading at 3:00 am.
This is a beautiful first novel by Coates which could have used some gentle editing, but left me thinking about my own magical powers. I bet you’ll feel the same! Best paired with a big cup of hot coffee and some bright sunshine.