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Book Review: The Water Dancer

It is my pleasure to introduce our guest blogger, Cassandra Cervi, who was excited to share her review and a reflection of this great book. Cassandra studied Creative Writing and English, before doing a Master's in Media and starting as a Strategist in Toronto. She is an avid reader with a preference for magical realism and surrealism, or anything interesting and weird.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, best known for his nonfiction book Between the World and Me, has released his first fiction novel, The Water Dancer and it is definitely worth a read, despite a few small pitfalls. The novel follows a young enslaved boy named Hiram Walker, who has perfect memory recall. He can remember everything from faces to stories to songs. But he can’t remember his mother’s face. She was sold when he was 9, by his father, who owns and runs the slowly diminishing Lockless plantation. Hiram’s skill impresses his father and he soon works for his brother. Hiram later learns that he has another skill, which proves useful in freeing himself and those he loves from their enslavement. This power can only be used when he taps into memories of his mother. This novel has some problems: there are some plot-holes, some over-used clichés of the fantasy genre are used. But where this novel really thrives is in the way that it taps into the power of personal and collective memory. The exploration of memory as power is very interesting. Using the memory in this way feels like a powerful reclamation of the history that Black people in America are so often denied. The description is also lyrical and beautiful. In all, the story is engaging and beautifully told, if sometimes a little clunky. I would recommend moving it to the top of your reading list.

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