The Water Dancer gained popularity after Oprah selected it as the book of the season. It has seen mainstream success but that shouldn’t discourage you from reading this book at all. When you read it, you will realize why it was chosen in the first place.
The book was written in 2019 by author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who I definitely recommend checking out. The book covers the protagonist Hiram Walker’s story of slavery and his trials and tribulations. Through Hiram’s story, you hear many other stories and how it shapes his world view of his people.
Coates does a wonderful job capturing the struggle of slaves in Virginia and does an even better job of telling the story for men and women. Hiram learns as do the burden of women and how it differed from men. This book could have focused on just Hiram and his struggle but Coates wanted to make sure that was the last thing he did. Not many stories are captured from different views and work but this makes the book exceptionally great.
Hiram has great memory and does not forget anything which makes his father, the owner of the plantation, notice him and bring him to the house. That decision changes Hiram’s life from working on the field to helping around the house and as he grows older to look after his half brother. This life becomes Hiram’s prison until one day an event changes the course of Hiram’s life.
The beauty of this book is how vividly Coates captures the stories of people that have had their families torn apart by slavery. How stories of our loved ones keep us going when we have nothing else left of them. The characters in this book are the backbone and Coates does a wonderful job making all of them come to life.