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Gathering of Waters [Kindle Edition]

Bernice L. McFadden
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Selected as a Go On Girl! Book Pick

“100 Notable Books of 2012” —New York Times
“50 Best Books of 2012” —Washington Post

"McFadden works a kind of miracle -- not only do [her characters] retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises . . . Beautiful and evocative, Gathering of Waters brings three generations to life . . . The real power of the narrative lies in the richness and complexity of the characters. While they inhabit these pages they live, and they do so gloriously and messily and magically, so that we are at last sorry to see them go, and we sit with those small moments we had with them and worry over them, enchanted, until they become something like our own memories, dimmed by time, but alive with the ghosts of the past, and burning with spirits."
--New York Times Book Review

"Read it aloud. Hire a chorus to chant it to you and anyone else interested in hearing about civil rights and uncivil desires, about the dark heat of hate, about the force of forgiveness."
--Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, NPR

"McFadden combines events of Biblical proportions--from flooding to resurrection--with history to create a cautionary, redemptive tale that spans the early twentieth century to the start of Hurricane Katrina. She compellingly invites readers to consider the distinctions between 'truth or fantasy' . . . In McFadden's boldly spun yarn, consequences extend across time and place. This is an arresting historical portrait of Southern life with reimagined outcomes, suggesting that hope in the enduring power of memory can offer healing where justice does not suffice."
--Publishers Weekly

"The rich text is shaped by the African American storytelling tradition and layered with significant American histories. Recalling the woven spirituality of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, this work will appeal to readers of mystic literature."
--Library Journal

"McFadden makes powerful use of imagery in this fantastical novel of ever-flowing waters and troubled spirits."

"In this fierce reimagining, the actual town of Money, MS narrates the story about the ghost of Emmett Till and his from-the-other-side reunification with the girl he loved as a child in Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden."
--Ebony Magazine

Gathering of Waters is a deeply engrossing tale narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi--a site both significant and infamous in our collective story as a nation. Money is personified in this haunting story, which chronicles its troubled history following the arrival of the Hilson and Bryant families.

Tass Hilson and Emmett Till were young and in love when Emmett was brutally murdered in 1955. Anxious to escape the town, Tass marries Maximillian May and relocates to Detroit.

Forty years later, after the death of her husband, Tass returns to Money and fantasy takes flesh when Emmett Till's spirit is finally released from the dank, dark waters of the Tallahatchie River. The two lovers are reunited, bringing the story to an enchanting and profound conclusion.

Gathering of Waters mines the truth about Money, Mississippi, as well as the town's families, and threads their history over decades. The bare-bones realism--both disturbing and riveting--combined with a magical realm in which ghosts have the final say, is reminiscent of Toni Morrison's Beloved.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Money, Mississippi—a town made infamous by the murder of teenager Emmett Till in 1955—is the narrator of this tale of a town drenched in troubled spirits and troubled waters. McFadden portrays the lives of the Hilson family, fleeing the race riots of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the 1920s, for safety in Money. But they encounter an even greater threat in a spirit that drifts through them, destabilizing relationships between husbands and wives, mothers and children. She threads their lives through racial tumult and flooding into the 1950s, when young Tass Hilson meets a young boy visiting from Chicago and begins a budding romance just before his historic death. Traumatized by the violent death of her young love, Tass grows up, marries, and moves on to Detroit to raise a family, but she never forgets Emmett. When her husband dies, Tass gives in to the tug of memories and returns to Money, Mississippi, and the spirits that reside there. McFadden makes powerful use of imagery in this fantastical novel of ever-flowing waters and troubled spirits. --Vanessa Bush

From the Back Cover

"As strange as this may sound, Bernice L. McFadden has created a magical, fantastic novel centered around the notorious tragedy of Emmett Till's murder. This is a startling, beautifully written piece of work."
--Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River

"In her new novel, Gathering of Waters, Bernice L. McFadden brings her own special vision to the unfortunate story of Emmett Till and his murder in Money, Mississippi. This moving and magical novel, which traces the generations leading up to and away from that horrible night in 1955, drew me in immediately and swept me along through its richly imagined world. I couldn’t stop reading, caught up as I was in that enticing place between truth and fantasy, the here-and-now and the what-was, the living and the dead, the ugliness and the beauty, the hatred and the love. What a rich chorus of voices Bernice L. McFadden has fashioned from this place called Money."
--Lee Martin, author of Break the Skin and The Bright Forever

Product Details

  • File Size: 302 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1617750328
  • Publisher: Akashic Books (January 31, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006MGL6NQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,792 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lest We Forget.... January 16, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Rich, detailed and historic, Bernice McFadden brings forth another wonderful story filled with all the elements of life - sorrow and joy, good times and bad and the realities that often mark our life. It is the unsettled soul of the dead prostitute Esther that stirs up so much difficulty amongst the living. But often in life, it is such darkness that allows a much needed light to come through. A daring endeavor, the arrival of Emmet Till into the novel had me bracing my heart. Despite knowing how it ended, I found myself wishing for a different ending. But Ms. McFadden handled the incident with truth and care and though my heart surged and ached as I read it, I still felt a soft hope. There is a saying that those who do not remember the past are bound to repeat it and such moments of our history as Americans needs to be remembered, forever. I applaud Ms. McFadden for another skillful glance back into our past and am looking forward to many more such thought evoking, heart rendering stories. "Gathering of Waters" is a true gem and a "must-read"...

Margaret Johnson-Hodge,
author of "In Search of Tennessee Sunshine"
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50 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Troubling of Waters... March 19, 2012
I really wanted to love this book but I found it completely problematic and very troubling. Although there is nothing in the story that explicitly says that Esther is Black there is nothing that says otherwise. Esther's description as "bright skinned and big legged" can easily be interpreted as Blackness. I'm still questioning why an entire Black community would know a dead white prostitute by her voice and mannerisms, especially given the segregated time period in which Esther lived. To me it only makes sense that the reader is led to believe that Esther is a Black woman and this is where I find this story completely problematic. The evil spirit of a Black woman possesses the white male body of one of the killers of Emmett Till, are you serious? If this story was purely fiction maybe I wouldn't have had a problem with it, but because the death of Emmett Till was such a watershed event spotlighting the evils of white supremacy and racism and a galvanizing tool in the civil rights movement, that I can't help but to absolutely reject this retelling. The murder of Emmett Till to be retold in this way makes the legacy of hate and racism a type of ghost story with no real means to counter it or to even confirm its existence. And for the record racism is alive and well and we must continue to find ways to overcome it.

Finally, Esther's spirit playing a role in Hurricane Katrina was all I could take of this story. One of the greatest natural disasters of modern times whose effects still reverberate throughout the Gulf Coast and greatly felt within African American communities like New Orleans and it's all caused by Esther, the evil spirit of a woman that could possibly be Black. The historical events in this story make the stakes very high in this retelling and I don't think this story does them justice. Some may feel that this review is overly sensitive regarding race, but if race is taken out of my analysis, I still have a problem with evil being gendered as female.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spirits and spirited January 19, 2012
"Their story begins not with the tragedy of '55 but long before that, with the arrival of the first problem, which came draped in crinoline and silk; carrying a pink parasol in one hand and a Bible in the other." This is one of the first lines in Gathering of Waters, narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi. Yes, a town has a voice. And what a voice! I was hooked from this sentence on. I fear that some will resist reading this book because of the subject matter--the murder of Emmett Till. But if you like language. If you like imagery and atmosphere. If you enjoy a walloping good story. If you enjoy characters so human and so real you feel like you could invite them over for dinner (though definitely don't let Doll near your food!), I encourage you to read this spirited tale.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars G.O.A.T. January 14, 2012
This book was absolutely amazing! The storytelling is so rich and powerful, it makes you feel like you are in Mississippi while all this is happening. I usually read a book, wait 6 months, and read again, with this one, as soon as I passed the last page and finished the story, I went straight back to the beginning and started reading it again! I didn't want it to end. Absolutely wonderful, Miss McFadden!!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical Literature! January 26, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Gathering of Water by Bernice McFadden is one of the best books i have read. Period. Ms. McFadden takes the historical story of Emmit Till's murder and weaves a tale full of magic, mysticism and history. The story is filled with believable love stories, the power of ghostly spirits and lush renderings of southern history. The book grabbed me by the throat and would not let go, even after I was done reading it. I could literally see, Evelyn, the ghost, as she wreaked havoc in the lives of people in Money, Mississippi. The town, Money, actually narrated the story which was literary cleverness. All I can say ithy his is a book that recreates history within its pages and is recommended reading for all who love excellent storytelling.

Angelia Vernon Menchan
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can I get a witness? February 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's been days since finishing this novel and I am still on pause--awestruck.
Can I say anymore, doubt it. A wonderful read, my hands still hurt from gripping my kindle.
I dare not tell of the contents, I could not possibly do it justice
I must recommend to my book club pals, maybe even read it again, more slowly next time
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical prose
I enjoyed the way fiction was weaved effortlessly into actual events. It made the story more poignant for me. Using a town as an actual character come to life, brilliant. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dean
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it. Now.
I have read three of McFadden's books in two weeks and none of them have disappointed. Especially this one. It was haunting and riveting and I couldn't put it down. Read more
Published 1 month ago by M0cha
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Finish
Really disappointed in this one. I love Bernice McFadden, but this one fell short. Kind of silly in my opinion
Published 2 months ago by gdeezy
5.0 out of 5 stars More. please
The end came too soon. I wanted more. What did Padagonia do? It's a great story, but it needs an ending.
Published 2 months ago by John Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't want to put this book down.
The characters were so well done. I didn't know anything about this story but once I started just needed to see it through. Read more
Published 2 months ago by teresa r.
4.0 out of 5 stars good book
I liked the book, especially, the history intermixed with the fiction, but I thought the ending was a little week.
Published 5 months ago by J. Gardner
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read
Easy to read story that reads like three shirt stories loosely tied together by shared characters. The connection was stretched sometimes but regardless it read super easy and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by J Kreidler-Moss
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Interesting Read with Complex Characters
I believe I once heard Ms. McFadden say she has been influenced by Toni Morrison, and it shows in this book about characters who communicate with ghosts. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Booklover
4.0 out of 5 stars A strange but enjoyable book
An interesting twist was given to a moment that continues to haunt the history of the civil rights movement in the Deep South.
Published 6 months ago by CJ
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing read
Enjoyed the first half of the book but the last half left lots to be desired. Seemed almost like the author had a fast approaching deadline so hurried to finish or just stopped... Read more
Published 6 months ago by JDC at STL
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More About the Author

I am mother, daughter, sister and friend. All I've ever wanted was to be happy. Writing makes me happy.

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