And the lucky winner is.... Katya!
The Water and the Blood: A Novel by Nancy Turner
2001 ReganBooks/HarperCollins Publishers
Quit on 10/1/08
I turned and faced the road we'd come down, my face hard and set. The kids moved on without me. I could still see a slight glow and the murky, gray smoke reaching above the trees, where it spread to the south....
When I thought they were out of earshot, I took a deep breath. "You lied to me," I whispered toward the building, to all the people it represented, to the hours I'd spent on those hard, split-log seats, and to my childish epiphanies born there .... "You lied," I said. "These are my best friends now."
Rare is the gift of a writer who is able to conjure up the voices of very different worlds, to give them heat and power and make them sing. Such is the talent of Nancy E. Turner. Her beloved first novel, These Is My Words, opened readers to the challenges of a woman's life in the nineteenth-century Southwest. Now this extraordinary writer shifts her gaze to a very different world -- East Texas in the years of the Second World War -- and to the life of a young woman named Philadelphia Summers, known against her will as Frosty.
From the novel's harrowing opening scene, Frosty's eyes survey the landscape around her -- white rural America -- with the awestruck clarity of an innocent burned by sin. In her mother and sisters she sees fear and small-mindedness; in the eyes of local boys she sees racial hatred and hunger for war. When that war finally comes, it offers her a chance for escape - to California, and the caring arms of Gordon Benally a Native-American soldier. But when she returns to Texas she must face the rejection of a town still gripped by suspicion -- and confront the memory of the crime that has marked her soul since adolescence.
Propelled by the quiet power of one woman's voice, The Water and the Blood is a moving and unforgettable portrait of an America of haunted women and dangerous fools -- an America at once long perished and with us still.
I loved Nancy These Is My Words (in spite of the awkward-sounding title!); it made my Top Ten List for 2003 and I gave several copies to friends and relatives that year for Christmas. The following is a rough excerpt from my reading journal:
These is My Words (Nancy Turner)
Rating: A+ (10/10 Excellent! One of the best books I've ever read!)
After a lukewarm start (only lasting a few pages), I fell in love with this marvelous, coming-of-age story of courage, family, love and loss. The epistolary style is a favorite of mine and I was easily convinced the diary could really be true (it's not, though). This book has something for everyone. Indian raids. Romantic tension. Humor and drama (snakes!). Suspense. History. I laughed and cried and didn't want to finish reading this gem. It's definitely a keeper and I plan to read it again someday. Sarah and Jack's story will stay with me always. This is one of those books full of favorite passages that I want to share with everyone, but won't because it would spoil the enjoyment should they decide to read it for themselves.
After reading such a wonderful book, I was thrilled to receive a copy of The Water and the Blood from my brother and sister-in-law the following year on my birthday. Jen loved These Is My Words just as much as I did and was eager to hear what I thought of Turner's stand-alone novel. As it typically goes around here, the book didn't get read right away and wound up on a shelf for several years. Late last month, I was anxious to find a good novel to get engrossed in for our trip out to Virginia Beach and decided this was the book. Unfortunately, after struggling with close to fifty pages, I decided to give it up. It's difficult, after more than two weeks' lapse, to pinpoint the problems with the narrative. It could easily have been poor timing, as I was obviously quite distracted with our situation in Virginia.
It's a shame The Water and the Blood didn't live up to my expectations. However, I have the sequel (Sarah's Quilt: A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine and the Arizona Territories, 1906) to These Is My Words in my stacks and I'm quite confident I won't be disappointed. It comes highly recommended by several who loved These Is My Words as much as I did. I doubt I'll let it sit on a shelf for four years!
If anyone is interested in this book, leave me a comment and I'll draw a name next weekend.