The Sweetness of Water - an unforgettable post-Civil War story and a remarkable debut by its author.
Updated: Jul 2
In the fictional, rural town of Old Ox, Georgia, the Civil War has just ended. The Emancipation Proclamation has taken effect. Brothers Prentiss and Landry are free. But what happens now? They hide in the forest on the land next to the plantation they were raised in and enslaved in. Landowner George Walker finds the brothers and offers them work, a play to live and fair wages so they can save enough money to head north. George and his wife Isabelle have just learned that their son Caleb has died in the war. George seeks new meaning and decides that together with the brothers, they will clear the land and grow peanuts. The Walkers have to deal with the impact this plan has on their community, which is struggling with the start of Reconstruction and the appearance of Union soldiers throughout the town. Their neighbors shun the Walkers as they treat the Black brothers with compassion. When the truth of Caleb’s fate is revealed, everything changes.
There is so much to love in The Sweetness of Water, a remarkable debut novel by author Nathan Harris. Each of the characters are skillfully well-developed and complicated. The beautiful writing will immerse you into this heartbreaking yet hopeful book. Even while being transported to the 1860s, the parallels to today’s issues of racism cannot be ignored. We see how the scars of the past still exist today. Yet amidst the divide, there are those who rise above and see a better day that lies ahead.
I started to pull out some passages that impacted me the most and I realized there were just too many. The prose is that good. You’re going to hear a lot about this book and its talented author. I hope you’ll read The Sweetness of Water. It is a slow-burn book that requires you devote the time to settle in and appreciate its nuances. It is befitting that this book was published the week Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday in the U.S.
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: June 15, 2021.
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