~ About the Book ~
After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.
Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.
With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.
Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom—and has the power to transform a broken heart.
Genre: Women’s/Literary Fiction
Release date: 5 June 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
~ Excerpt ~
A few people waved at us until they got a closer look, then their hands would still and retreat down to their sides. I knew why. They kept staring though. This was the same for both the white and the colored folks who were out.
“Everybody knows everybody in town,” Malachi said, and while those might’ve been some nice words to put together, I wasn’t sure that knowing everybody was a good thing. “They’ll warm to us once they know I’m a local.”
Of course, my eyebrow went up and my mouth said, “Mmhmm,” quietly. I knew they saw what color we were and the white folks didn’t want more of us, and the colored folks probably wondered who we were and didn’t want no trouble. Maybe we were too different from the colored community up here. Didn’t even know as I cared about all that. Didn’t know as I cared so much about making friends. Even with all my decades of friends in Montgomery, when I lost Carver I didn’t fit in with nobody. Just myself.
“Notice anything different here, Dee?”
What did Malachi want me to say? There was a whole lot of different. Where did he want me to start? Mallie said he wondered if they played the same yard games for recess and all Harriet was worried about was eating dinner. That girl’s mind didn’t stray far from food.
“Look around, kids. No signs.” The man fairly jumped out of his brown skin like he been keeping this as a gift to us. Even though we knew it was different from the south, that things weren’t segregated the same way. But I don’t know that the kids understood that meant no signs that said Whites Only or Colored Only.
He got a whole chorus of talk from Mallie and Harriet about walking through the same door as the white folks, using the same bathrooms, and eating at any table in a restaurant—that last one was Harriet, of course, and she said it like we ever go to restaurants.
Malachi told us how the men that run most of the shops were the ones he came up with. They were boys together. And I think he must be fibbing. All the shopkeepers I saw were white but for a few, and colored boys and white boys didn’t come up together.
“What you mean come up with?” I asked. “You make it sound like you went to school together.”
He shook his head. “No. It was better than that.” His eyes twinkled. “We played together.”
I didn’t pay it no mind because it don’t make much sense to me. My childhood in the south was just too different to understand that.
Taken from “The Solace of Water” by Elizabeth Byler Younts
Copyright © 2018 by Elizabeth Byler Younts
Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/
~ Review ~
What an utterly captivating read! It took me a couple of chapters to settle into this story, but by the time I finished it, I had tears rolling down my face. The burdens these women carried—some of their own making, some not—were so palpable and their characters so breathtakingly authentic, not just as humans but as products of their time and culture, that I ended up being completely transported to the world of the story.
Ironically, I think the reason it took me a couple of chapters to settle into the novel was because Delilah was so well written. Her speech patterns were very authentic for a black woman in the 1950s and, coupled to her forthright manner and her bitterness over the death of her young son, the first person narrative initially felt a bit awkward. But as I got to know Delilah better, I realised how much it added to, perhaps even defined her character.
The story was gripping in its own right, but the way it explored the dichotomous qualities of water—literally and metaphorically—added layers of depth that I’m still contemplating. Water is the source of both life and death; it sooths and it causes pain; it is a force of nature and yet ours to harness and use as we choose. And, of course, it has spiritual significance through baptism. All of these aspects are explored in the novel to varying degrees as Delilah, Sparrow, and Emma are carried along on the relentless current of their grief, their secrets, and their guilt.
This is a must-read if you enjoy a powerful story of restoration, forgiveness, and unlikely friendship.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ About the Author ~
Elizabeth Byler Younts writes women’s fiction for Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect for two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.