Gathering of Waters Review
by Bernice L. McFadden
The novel is a multigenerational story of black families surviving on the cusp of 20th century Mississippi.
The narrative frame uses the perspective of a town (or maybe a spirit that embodies Money, Mississippi). The story is a human story about legacies and superstition.
The book is a shorter read, and the style is 3rd person omniscient viewpoint with less introspection. Events and memories pass by in fleeting snippets.
The dialogue was the best point. It felt lived, like a highlight reel of the funniest quotes. However, the style, a string of vignettes, lends to an incohesive plot. While reading, it is better to enjoy how the characters react.
Some flaws are that the town-as-an-omniscient-narrator ended up being just a gimmick, and it didn’t really scratch the supernatural itch that I thought it would. I also felt the main antangonist, who was a sex worker of sorts, was not necessary. The real antagonists, who are self-righteous bullies, just kinda pop up near the end, knock an innocent guy over, and cue uproar. French plot, as they say.
The story was unique in its use of calming imagery, and it highlighted the fear and reverence of water in Southern US culture. Although the book contains a murder, it’s more spooky than graphic. If you want to peek into the quiet and unassuming lives of normal people making do with what they have, definitely consider Gathering of Waters.
Word Count: 51479
Average Readability (US Grade Level): 7.5
Percent dialogue: 16.46%