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Gathering of Waters Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Length: 257 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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: 2432 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Akashic Books (January 31, 2012)
  • Publication Date: January 31, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006MGL6NQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,054 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

BERNICE L. McFADDEN is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, The Warmest December, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors' Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a three-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of three awards from the BCALA. McFadden also writes humorous erotica under the pseudonym: Geneva Holliday.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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"
1 Comment 31 of 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
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.
6 Comments 56 of 67 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
"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.
Comment 12 of 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By L. Seals on January 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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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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Format: Paperback
Mississippi--Many gathering Waters--is the location for Bernice McFadden's latest novel, Gathering of Waters. It's also one of the characters in the tale, with the small town of Money Mississippi carrying as convincing a voice as the mysterious narrator of Marcus Zuzak's The Book Thief. Detached writing brings an absorbing, almost overwhelming depth to this tale, making it one of those rare books I've been unable to put down while reading.

Whether or not you accept the existence and transference of souls, Bernice McFadden's convincing writing suspends all disbelief and flings the reader into Mississippi's recent history, riding over the divide of black and white, spinning through fields where thwarted love demands its recompense, surviving childbirth and flood till the arrival of Chicago's visitor. Though I knew from the cover that Emmett Till was a part of this Mississippi tale, his arrival was so naturally told I forgot his history, welcomed his presence and his voice, and was newly and totally shocked by his sudden demise.

Author Bernice McFadden brings the impossibly horrific to life with the same sympathy, skill, and humanity as Marcus Zuzak did in The Book Thief, leaving the reader to face man's inhumanity without prejudgment, and creating a glorious space in ignominy for hope. Life goes on, as does the story, till a word-perfect, picture-perfect, spiritually perfect conclusion truly draws it to a close, leaving this reader breathless and enriched.

I've read other novels by Bernice McFadden, but this one blows me away and I can't wait to ask my book group to add it to next year's list.

Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Akashic books in exchange for my honest review.
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