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Water by the Spoonful (The Elliot Trilogy #2)

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  564 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
The 2012 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Somewhere in Philadelphia, Elliot has returned from Iraq and is struggling to find his place in the world. Somewhere in a chat room, recovering addicts forge an unbreakable bond of support and love. The boundaries of family and community are stretched across continents and cyberspace as birth families splinter and online f
Paperback, 128 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Theatre Communications Group
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Feb 12, 2017 Brina rated it really liked it
Water by the Spoonful is Quiara Algeria Hudes Pulitzer winning play. Hudes had been producing plays since the age of fifteen and attended Brown University to study under the tutelage of Paula Vogel. Spoonful is part of Hudes' trilogy featuring Elliot Ortiz, an Iraq war veteran who has been coping with life since his discharge and his birth mother Odessa also known as Haiku mom who runs a chat room for recovering crack addicts. A powerful drama that runs the gamut of human emotions, Water by the ...more
Jan 14, 2017 Kenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nobody can make you invisible but you.


One of my reading goals this year is to read more play scripts, focusing on contemporary scripts. I've start this journey with Water By The Spoonful . Water By The Spoonful , the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Quiara Alegria Hudes, tells the parallel story of crack addiction and how it effects those around the user. Eliott, an ex-marine and caretaker of his mother, came back from Iraq with an injured leg, Trying to get his life together, and to take care
Rachelle Urist
Oct 21, 2016 Rachelle Urist rated it it was amazing
Quiara Alegría Hudes is not a name I knew, but she won the 2012 Pulitzer prize for this play, Water by the Spoonful. It turns out she also wrote the book for In the Heights, and won a Tony nomination for it. The lyrics were written by Lin Manuel Miranda. I saw the show, but forgot that it was not Miranda who created the entire musical, as he did for Hamilton. Hudes has a unique mind. Her originality is rife with significance on many levels. While her non-linear style in this play makes for some ...more
Perrin Pring
Mar 30, 2015 Perrin Pring rated it really liked it
Shelves: woman-authors, plays
I'm not a play connoisseur, that said, I enjoyed Water by the Spoonful.

About a variety of characters attempts to overcome their past, Water by the Spoonful explores just how someone recovers from trauma. Following addicts and an American veteran, Water by the Spoonful does a good job of showing, rather than explaining. This may be something particular to well done plays, but Hudes doesn't waste words. The readers/viewers are given only what they need and nothing more. That said, I could feel the
Jeff Arena
May 19, 2013 Jeff Arena rated it it was amazing
I think that when you read most great plays, you feel the love of the author for every character. Each character, no matter how flawed, is observed with care and compassion. So it is with Water by the Spoonful. The middle of a trilogy, it expands the community of the first play (Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue) in unexpected ways. It also develops a larger world view, using a simple and honest integration of online conversation. This play is full of feeling, an active plot, and layered themes.
Sep 09, 2013 Nicki rated it liked it
Deals with the effects of drug addiction very honestly while maintaining addicts' humanity. The online world was particularly creative, staged as people in chairs doing every day activities like making coffee while speaking their written conversations on an online forum out loud. Here the dialogue between the recovering addicts was especially witty and full of heart. Enjoyed the play, though stories of recovering addicts have never touched me deeply enough to warrant more than 3-stars.
Oct 15, 2016 Dusty rated it it was amazing
This brilliant, Pulitzer-winning play touches on a lot of hot topics, including war, addiction, and Puerto Ricans' eternal struggle to claim their place in the US mainstream. But most importantly, it is a story about family--about honoring the bond to all the people that have raised and cared for you, about building a new family for yourself when your biological relatives have turned their backs on you.

Initially, the play is divided between two groups of characters. In the first group, we have Y
Dec 03, 2012 Victoria rated it liked it
I feel kind of blasphemous saying this, but I thought this place was nice, but not as moving as I expected it to be. The ending was kind of anticlimactic to me. Still a good play, just not on my top ten of 2012.
Delara Hazegh f
Aug 10, 2014 Delara Hazegh f rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
I think it could have ended a bit sooner, somewhere I could rate it 5stars not 4!
I loved the name it just perfectly matches with the whole play.
Apr 02, 2013 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Pretty great. I have to admit. It’s a pretty great play.
Nov 24, 2012 Tung rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
Earlier in the year, I read Clybourne Park, the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. At the time, I doubted that another book this year would come along and challenge it for my top book of the year. Water by the Spoonful (winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama) doesn’t quite beat out Clybourne Park for my top book for 2012, but it made a strong case for it – this play is outstanding. The book focuses on Elliot, a 24-yr-old Iraqi war veteran; his cousin Yaz; Odessa (Elliot’s mother), ...more
Becky Johnston
May 23, 2014 Becky Johnston rated it really liked it
I sat down maybe two hours ago to start this play and ended up finishing it; unable to put it down. This is apparently the second of a three play cycle called The Elliot Trilogy. I have not read or seen the first (Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue) or the third, and final, play (The Happiest Song Plays Last). This play, the second, "Water by the Spoonful" stands well enough on it's own that reading/ viewing the other two plays doesn't feel necessary, at least to me. Simply through the strength of Ms. Hu ...more
Sep 29, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
This was a riveting read for me, and a tough one as well. Not tough in that it was hard to get through, but tough in that it was a very emotional play. All of the main characters are going through very hard, emotional, complex situations, and that really comes across in the play. Something about reading it makes you feel as if they are real people, revealing these deeply personal things to you as the play goes on. I felt this especially in the scenes with the online conversations, where it was s ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Jinky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
I got mixed up at first trying to figure out who was who but once I got that squared out in my head then things got pretty interesting. There were a couple main stories: 1) Elliot's battle to find life after returning from service in the Iraqi war with the help of his cousin Yaz, and 2) Online chat room adventures of recovering drug addicts. It was fascinating how the two stories ended up intermingling. Elliot wasn't suffering from a drug addiction but his mother was the founder of the Onli
Jane Mcneil
Nov 21, 2016 Jane Mcneil rated it liked it
Okay, I get it. Brown graduate, Vogel's protege, and then the Pulitzer. What I don't get is how this play measures up to previous winners. (i.e. Ruined, Death of a Salesman, or Disgraced) It reads more like a novel. The online conversations feel like its cheating the audience. The live stage demands ACTION and beautiful DIALOGUE and a strong STRUCTURE. Not sure where this play fits those needs. If your fawning all over this play or playwright because you are new to theatre and have disdain for t ...more
Craig Werner
May 07, 2015 Craig Werner rated it really liked it
94% of a five star play, brought down by an ending that felt a tad sentimental to me. But it's the middle play of a trilogy (read it because it won the Pulitzer, which it deserved) and I'm going to check out the rest, which may change my sense of this one's ending. Built around the juxtaposition between an on-line recovery crack addicts site (which is handled very nicely) and the complicated dynamics of a Puerto Rican family that includes an Iraq vet struggling with his ghosts and a young adjunc ...more
Tex Tourais
May 28, 2014 Tex Tourais rated it really liked it
Let me first say that I have an innate negative reaction to the word "crackhead" when I see it in a text. I understand that crackheads exist and that their stories are valid and need to be told, but when I see the word, itself... it's a little like the introduction of cancer into a plot line. My initial reaction is always an eyeroll. So... there's that.

This, in case you're a moron, is a story involving crackheads. It is a strong, and in some instances, beautiful story, and I thoroughly enjoyed t
Apr 28, 2014 SmarterLilac rated it it was amazing
A searing, shining epic genius of a play.

Definitely the best play I've read since Dunsinane.

I think it's amazing that Hudes managed to capture the immediacy and intimacy of relationships generated in Internet culture. She really nails it in so many ways. This is something I've struggled to capture in my own work, and found it impossibly difficult.

I love that this play does not shy away from the pain and misery suffered by addicts, but also does not gloss over the pain and misery addicts inflict
Dec 30, 2016 Jessica rated it liked it
I enjoyed this play although I'm not sure I agree that it was worthy of a Pulitzer. It examines two intertwined story's, one about a soldier, Elliot, back from war trying to find a place for himself while living with his professor cousin, Yaz. The other is about a drug rehabilitation message board run by Elliot's estranged mother. The play tries to tackle a lot of themes: addiction, rehabilitation, poverty, immigration, family, our chosen family vs. our real family, death and mourning, PTSD, war ...more
Nicole Fiegener
The genre for this book is plays. The target audience for this book could be anyone who has gone to war and struggles when they come home. The twin text for this book is "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk". I paired these books together because the twin text is about a squad of soldiers who talk about the war overseas and the war when they come back home. The nonfiction book I chose is about a soldier who returns from Iraq and struggles returning to every day life. He turns to the internet for hel ...more
I read this while sitting in my school's makeup room while the play was being performed by the wonderful IBTA Year 1 Class. I loved reading it and I really look forward to seeing how they are going to bring it to life. I can't even really articulate how and why this play was wonderful other than it just felt real. It was very real and raw and I love when things do that. I'm not a theatre student so I can't tell you what made this a good play due to technique, but emotionally it was very powerful ...more
Jan 19, 2017 Maggie rated it really liked it
I really liked "Water by the Spoonful"! The back and forth between the cyber world and the real world was a cool hook, and I imagine this was visually a really intriguing thing to watch on stage. Good performance opportunities for some really talented and interesting characters.

That being said...

...this...this won the Pulitzer? I don't mean to be a jerk but...why? I mean, I've never written anything this good, it's just...I'm not sure...the PULITZER? Really? I mean, the thing with the floatie wa
Rachel Linn
May 30, 2013 Rachel Linn rated it really liked it
Shelves: theatre
A good play. It does an especially good job of weaving digital living into real life as seamlessly as it actually happens. The juxtaposition of the persona of Haikumom and the flesh of Odessa is beautifully done. The truth shared between these two very different visions of the same woman is convincing and feels truthful. This is a play about the families we make and how those conflict with the families we were born with. All of the characters are trying to rebuild a broken history with the conne ...more
Nov 22, 2014 Aditi rated it it was amazing
An amazing play - Hudes gets inside the skin of every character and lays them bear to the reader. Now I am even more sad to have missed a production of this piece at the Adrian theatre in Philadelphia. The story is very real and very moving. It is brutal and haunting, and deeply insightful of human nature. What do people really escape from? What does it mean to struggle? How do you forgive someone you deeply loathe? I am not really able to articulate everything that this play made me feel but su ...more
Victoria Friend
Apr 22, 2014 Victoria Friend rated it really liked it
First of all, I should say that I saw the play before I read the book, so I'm biased to love the book as much as I loved the play. That being said, I did love the book. However, I don't think that just the script can do this play justice, since the book, despite all it's wonderful points, can't really describe the artistic nuances that actors and staging give it. However, it's still very much worth reading, and even more worth seeing onstage.
Annie Pulsipher
Nov 20, 2015 Annie Pulsipher rated it it was amazing
Hudes accomplished the impossible and wrote an enjoyable play about the internet--well, not about the internet. About addition, family, PTSD, relationships across distance and time, etc. But a play in which internet connections are visceral and effective on stage. The poetry works both in performance and reading.
Amy O
Jan 11, 2014 Amy O rated it really liked it
Shelves: theater-plays
Excellent drama. Strong voice in each character, imaginative staging and deeply emotional with some lighter moments of irony. Very glad I read it! The topic of addiction, recovery and support groups makes this play resonate especially for people who have experienced or love someone who has experienced these challenges or loneliness.
Pep Bonet
Jul 29, 2013 Pep Bonet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teatre
This is a powerful piece. It shows how family bonds can be important and how things are not necessarily what they look like. It mixes the struggle of some Porto Ricans to get up the social ladder, community action by some of its members and drug abuse in this same community to show that family, group and community are key. Very good reading and probably even better watching in a theatre.
May 20, 2014 James rated it it was amazing
A play can be about love without being a love story. A play can deal with technology without trying to DEAL with technology. A play can think about drugs, about race, about family and friendship without being a "family play" or a "drug play" or a "race play." Water by the Spoonful does all of those things and more. A subtly beautiful read.
Lyndi Rosdail
Jun 07, 2014 Lyndi Rosdail rated it liked it
Great play although I wish I had the chance to see it and not just read it! Can't wait to see what else Hudes produces. Her mentions of John Coltrane throughout the piece were simply genius as well as interweaving characters of different backrounds each struggling with addiction.
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  • Clybourne Park
  • 4000 Miles
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  • Disgraced
  • The Motherfucker With the Hat
  • Ruined
  • The Nether
  • Talley's Folly
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  • Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
  • Becky Shaw
  • The Flick
  • Anna in the Tropics (TCG Edition)
  • Strange Interlude
  • Other Desert Cities
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Quiara Alegría Hudes is a playwright, strong wife and mother of two, Distinguished Professor at Wesleyan University, barrio feminist and native of West Philly, U.S.A. Hailed for her work’s exuberance, intellectual rigor, and rich imagination, her plays and musicals have been performed around the world. They are Water By the Spoonful, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; In the Heights, winner o ...more
More about Quiara Alegría Hudes...

Other Books in the Series

The Elliot Trilogy (3 books)
  • Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue
  • The Happiest Song Plays Last

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