I worried that there would be no one to take J. California Cooper's place. I thought Bernice McFadden might be the one when I read Glorious. After reading Gathering of Waters, I'm sure of it!
I've often said that reading a J. California Cooper book is like sitting on the porch listening to your grandmother tell you a story. Using lush words and phrases that make you long for those days, McFadden's latest will leave you breathless from start to end. Once you start Gathering of Waters, you won't want to put it down until you've finished it.
Through narration by the town of Money, Mississippi, the reader is taken on a journey that explains the evil spirit that inflicted Roy Bryant, one of the men responsible for the murder of Emmett Till. Surely one would have to be evil to harm an innocent child the way the Bryant and his accomplices did, right?
We're first introduced to the spirit, which belonged to the town's recently deceased whore, early on when it comes back in the form of a little girl. When that child's mother can no longer control the monster that her daughter has become, she sends her to live with a preacher's family where her destructive ways reach far and wide. Eventually the spirit finds its way to another innocent child, this one a white boy brought back from the dead, who would eventually become the Roy Bryant who murdered Emmett Till.
Weaving history with fiction with surrealism left me absolutely fascinated with the way the author tied the stories of each person affected by this evil spirit together and then went a step further and tied it into water. Water is used often in literature to symbolize life, transformation, chaos or a cleansing. In Gathering of Waters, water is present at each milestone: Doll's transition, Roy's re-birth, Emmett's transition, Emmett's rebirth (of sorts), and Tass' transition. The culmination of the last two events brings forth one of the most chaotic events of present time. Water...who would have thought it could wreak such havoc.
Published: January (ebook)/February (paperback) 2012
Theme: Come to the River by Dianne Reeves