Gathering of Waters
We often imagine what it would be like if a place could talk, be a witness to historical events. Bernice McFadden accomplishes this fantasy with the personification of Money, Mississippi. Money is a narrator with infinite vision and an omnipresent capacity to unveil the intimacies of each character’s mind. McFadden’s story emerges with a prescient warning: “your soul has a body, and souls never ever die.” Gathering of Waters is a chilling and sorrowful story surrounding the savage, racially motivated and brutal slaying of Emmett Till in 1955.
It all begins when Reverend August Hilson and his wife, Doll, escape the race riots in Tulsa, Oklahoma and move to Money along with the soul of Esther, the whore who has assumed Doll’s body. Tass Hilson is the granddaughter of Doll and August. When Emmett Till arrives in town, Tass is immediately attracted to the new boy, but her future is suddenly altered when Emmett is killed. Tass eventually marries and moves to Detroit. What happens to Tass after raising a family of thirteen makes this a wondrous and hopeful journey. This story has such an array of emotions: humorous, chilling, warm and deeply cold. Esther invades various host bodies, and her hateful evil soul will continue to incite havoc in Money.
Bernice McFadden presents a unique parade of memorable characters in this fluid multigenerational story. It is a quick, startling read with brilliant dialogue and a deep message.