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Wade in the Water

A Novel

by Nyani Nkrumah

Wade in the Water by Nyani Nkrumah X
Wade in the Water by Nyani Nkrumah
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There are currently 21 reader reviews for Wade in the Water
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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.
Wendy P. (Jourdanton, TX)

Impressive Debut
This book did take a while for me to be invested -- about a quarter of the way through, but once I did I was impressed by what a sympathetic character Ella was. A moving coming of age story that handles tough topics like racism, prejudice, color lines and sexual abuse. A nice touch was we also saw the point of view of Ms. St. James, which gave the narrative an added depth.
Elizabeth L. (Langhorne, PA)

Engaging and heartfelt
The story of Miss St. James and Ella will stay with me for a long time. I found it to be an easy but thought provoking read, and I could not wait to pick it up each day. Katherine's story is so unfamiliar to me, and I found it hard to believe that it happened between the late 50's to 1983. Yet, I was intrigued by the challenges she faced growing up in the South and then reconciling that upbringing with what she learned in Princeton. Her friendship with Ella was an important part of the story, but I felt that Ella stole the show. While my heart broke for Ella because of the abuse she endured, deep down I knew she would find her way. I wanted to know more about where her road leads beyond these pages. I hope they make it into a movie or mini-series.
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