Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

What readers think of Wade in the Water, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Wade in the Water

A Novel

by Nyani Nkrumah

Wade in the Water by Nyani Nkrumah X
Wade in the Water by Nyani Nkrumah
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2023, 320 pages

    Jan 2024, 368 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book


Page 2 of 3
There are currently 24 reader reviews for Wade in the Water
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Susan M. (New Holland, PA)

A thought provoking read
The year is 1982. The place is Ricksville,MS. The KKK is active and this story reflects the racial violence and also the non-acceptance of darker skinned blacks by those who could pass for whites.
Wade In The Water is a thought-provoking story about an unusual friendship between an 11 year black child and a white grad student who rents a house in a poor black neighborhood in order to research racism. Those wishing to read a good history based novel should find this book to be an interesting read.
Mary S. (Edmonds, WA)

A coming of age story but so much more
Wade in the Water is a coming-of-age book but much more. It is about the secrets we keep from others and from ourselves, as well as the values and lens we use to view life that have been inherited from our families, friends and culture. The characters come to life and leave you pondering how we allow ourselves to be blinded by appearances and not see what is truly important. The author's writing is incredibly vibrant and engaging. My favorite character was a blind man and best friend of Ella, who has vision beyond that of sighted people. This is a book with characters who will live on with you long after the last page is read.
Debbie G. (Cottage Grove, WI)

Wade In The Water
I greatly enjoyed this book which is a powerful story about identity, belonging and African heritage. It provides detailed observations about how racism impacts so much more than individual lives. Excellent character development, especially of the eleven year old girl, Ella and her life in rural Mississippi. The alternating chapters between Ella and the character Ms. St. James are extremely effective in adding tension and nuanced layers to the developing story.
Marian Y. (Troutdale, OR)

Wade in the Water by Nyani Nkrumah
Raw and heartbreaking, "Wade in the Water" by Nyani Nkrumah tells the story of an 11-year-old girl in 1980s Mississippi. I found this to be a worthwhile, thought-provoking book. I gained some perspectives I hadn't previously considered about slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and the impact of these eras on individuals in more recent times. I recommend this book to anyone seeking to broaden their understanding of our country's racial history. While the book features a pre-teen protagonist, due to some of the content in the book, I believe it is best suited to an older teen/adult audience with trigger warnings for abuse. "Wade in the Water" could provide a profound and provocative discussion for a book club. I think individuals who appreciate "The Bluest Eye" (Toni Morrison), "Color Purple" (Alice Walker), and "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (Maya Angelou) will also appreciate "Wade in the Water."
Mary H. (Phoenix, AZ)

The Good and the Bad of people and everything in between.
Humankind consists of an assortment of people and categories many. The theme derived from this story proves that the important factors to all people is the sense of safety and love. Unconditional love is not easy to find but the young girl Ella believes that God, nature and a very few people can be loved.
The story accurately depicts the levels of maturity needed to understand the complexity of humans and their ability to love. Politics, wealth, heritage and the color of the skin plays a vital part in the beliefs and attitudes of the time of this story, gossip and lies fueled the arguments. Racism within the US continues to undermine the country. The Internet, lies by feeding misinformation fuel our current discontent. Like Ella, we need to keep searching for the truth, keep looking beyond ourselves to understand the depth of humanity.
Rebecca M. (Gulfport, FL)

Southern 1980's Coming of Age
This book was a page turner. I loved the main character, Ella, a very smart, precocious child.
Most of the story line was about difficult subjects- racism, adultery, abuse, to name a few.
Story takes place in a black community in the 80's, but takes you back in time in various segments touching on the civil rights movement & the murder of election workers.
There are many characters, interesting people with nice character development, be it a good person, a bad person or someone in between.
A true coming of age story told mostly through Ella's eyes.
Very good novel.
Leslie R. (Arlington, VA)

insights and questions
In a small town in rural Mississippi a white Princeton scholar forms a friendship with a precocious pre-teen black girl. I was prepared to not like this book before I read the first page. Having grown up in the South in the late fifties, I lived this era so I am wary of authors who get it wrong. This book, however, delivers unique believability to an unlikely plot. The main story takes place in the early eighties in Ridgeville, Mississippi, and is told in two voices: that of Ella, the young black girl, and that of Ms. St. James, who becomes Ella's mentor even as she herself is doing research and writing a thesis on the effects of the Civil Rights movement.
Ella interacts with a number of well-developed black characters, each of whom has an important influence on her life. Her white mentor, Ms. St. James, exposes herself in alternating chapters, describing her own Mississippi childhood in a neighboring town. Her revelations become more and more shocking.
This author skillfully sheds a light on the complexities of the racial situation in America and leaves the readers with new insights and many provocative questions.
Paula K. (Champaign, IL)

Humanizing the Racial Divide
This impressive debut by Nyani Nkrumah came as a very welcome surprise. Unlike the ordinary novel of a friendship between a preadolescent Black girl and an older Princeton female graduate student in 1982 that I expected, Nkrumah has written a moving story that humanizes the ongoing struggle between Black and White inhabitants of a segregated Mississippi town located near Philadelphia, site of the infamous murder of three civil rights activists in the 1960s. The novel grabbed me from the start and kept me in its thrall to the end. Highly recommended.
  • Page
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Beyond the Book:
  The Freedom Summer Murders

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Big Time
    Big Time
    by Ben H. Winters
    Big Time, the latest offering from prolific novelist and screenwriter Ben H. Winters, is as ...
  • Book Jacket: Becoming Madam Secretary
    Becoming Madam Secretary
    by Stephanie Dray
    Our First Impressions reviewers enjoyed reading about Frances Perkins, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine CapĂł Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Half a Cup of Sand and Sky
by Nadine Bjursten
A poignant portrayal of a woman's quest for love and belonging amid political turmoil.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

Win This Book
Win The Funeral Cryer

The Funeral Cryer by Wenyan Lu

Debut novelist Wenyan Lu brings us this witty yet profound story about one woman's midlife reawakening in contemporary rural China.



Solve this clue:

M as A H

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.