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Gathering of Waters

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  2,671 ratings  ·  437 reviews

Gathering of Waters is a deeply engrossing tale narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi--a site both significant and infamous in our collective story as a nation. Money is personified in this haunting story, which chronicles its troubled history following the arrival of the Hilson and Bryant families.

Tass Hilson and Emmett Till were young and in love when Emmett was bru
Paperback, 250 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Akashic Books
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Merischia Griffin It was never revealed. Tass actually stated that when she asked her mother who her father was, Hemmingway replies, "I am your mother and father". …moreIt was never revealed. Tass actually stated that when she asked her mother who her father was, Hemmingway replies, "I am your mother and father". (less)

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Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Since I finished this book, it has haunted me.

As I move through my day, images, phrases, characters, tensions, joys, and sorrows from Gathering of Waters sneak up on me when I least expect them. This is probably only fitting, as McFadden presents in her novel a multi-generational story, told by the town of Money, Mississippi (yes, by the town), that seamlessly combines beautifully clear and elegantly simple descriptions of everyday life among black families living in Money, with incandescently b
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Dearest, you cannot bury a soul! Souls are light, darkness, and air."- Bernice L. McFadden, Gathering of Waters

I love it when I read a page of a book and I instantly know I'm going to love it. I've been in a sort of fiction reading slump and this book got me right out of it. It's one of the most enjoyable books I've read all year, hard to put into words how it touched me but it really did.

It all starts in Money, Mississippi, with the death of a hooker, Esther, whose vindictive spirit inhabits a
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-american
For the Love of Money

I was hooked the moment I began reading this book, this, for its beautiful, lyrical prose. How did I ever miss reading this author whose prose kept me going even though I found myself judging a few of the characters for their sexual indiscretions and for the author’s sexually explicit scenes? Then I realized that it was like the flood in Noah’s day where God had destroyed mankind, but in this case, the Mississippi flood of 1927.

Then Emmet Till stepped into the novel, and wh
Read In Colour
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I worried that there would be no one to take J. California Cooper's place. I thought Bernice McFadden might be the one when I read Glorious. After reading Gathering of Waters, I'm sure of it!

I've often said that reading a J. California Cooper book is like sitting on the porch listening to your grandmother tell you a story. Using lush words and phrases that make you long for those days, McFadden's latest will leave you breathless from start to end. Once you start Gathering of Waters, you won't wa
Gathering of Waters: Bernice L. McFadden's Embrace of the Seen and Unseen

Bernice McFadden

"I am Money. Money, Mississippi...

Listen, if you choose to believe nothing else that transpires here, believe this: your body does not have a soul; your soul has a body, and souls never, ever die."

It is unusual that I continue to be so haunted by a novel that I take days before I attempt to review it. But, I dare say, many a reader may find themselves under the same spell so artfully cast by Bernice L. M
Bernice McFadden
Aug 07, 2011 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
“In her new novel, Gathering of Waters, Bernice McFadden brings her own special vision to the unfortunate story of Emmett Till and his murder in Money, Mississippi. This moving and magical novel, which traces the generations leading up to and away from that horrible night in 1955, drew me in immediately and swept me along through its richly imagined world. I couldn’t stop reading, caught up as I was in that enticing place between truth and fantasy, the here-and-now and the what-was, the living a ...more
After reading this book it will always stay on my mind. I never read a book where the town was the narrator...it was phenomenal! It took me threw the 1900s up until 2005. It focus on the multi-generations of one family. Before they even got to Emmett's Story, I was emotional drained. Then when his part came up....I was crying so hard..that I had to put the book down so I could calm down. The historical parts was The 1900 flood, Emmett story and Katrina. It also got me thinking about my soul....a ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was thoroughly disappointing with this book! I am in no way a book writer, but I am definitely an avid reader. The plot summary of this book is misrepresenting. I borrowed it from the library after reading the indie cover, of course it was in a display announcing 'Best reads in 2012'. I have known about the poor teen, Emmett Till, who was murdered by white men in the 50's, but I did not know anything about his character or his personality. I thought this book would shed a light on that aspect ...more
Sarah Weathersby
I grew up in the Jim Crow South. While Petersburg, Virginia was light-years away from Money, Mississippi, there were also lynchings in Virginia. Black Mothers of sons in Petersburg (and my mother had four sons) had reason to fear for their sons. Petersburg was an Army town as well as a college town with an HBCU which my four brothers attended. There was enough progressive activity in Petersburg that we might have been allowed some uppityness. Still there were lynchings.

I was old enough to rememb
Brown Girl Reading
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
this book was fantastic! McFadden managed magical realism, personification, symbolism, historical fiction all combined with a lyrical writing style. Wish I could give it 4,5 stars. I started to read and couldn't put it down. It's only 252 pages and reads very quickly. I was hesitant about the ending because when I read Glorious I loved the story but the ending was flat for me. This ending works although I'm not sure everyone will love. Will be putting up an in-depth review soon on my blog. ...more
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The release of a new book from Bernice has become an event. It's like eagerly waiting for the new music from your favorite artist, or the premiere of the latest Spike Lee joint. For me, this is the rarefied air she has entered. I said in a previous review, "I can't understand for the life of me, why Bernice is not perennially on best sellers list." I guess, it is incumbent on those of us who love her writing, love the way she turns a phrase and her very vibrant and imaginative storytelling, to s ...more
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have enjoyed this author from Loving Donovan, This Bitter Earth, The Warmest December, and Sugar to her newest Gathering Of Waters.

The other reviews give you the setting and characters, plot and such, but her bringing together of words in this story from the beginning... "Listen, if you choose to believe nothing else that transpires here, believe this: your body does not have a soul; your soul has a body, and souls never, ever die.", to the end...."Whether you have embraced this tale as truth
Kyra Atterbury
Nov 30, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm not sure what to think about this book. In the beginning I absolutely LOVED it. The first chapter and the storytelling is compelling. Also, intriguing is the idea of the spirit world and that what you do comes back to either haunt or help you ten fold. Ms. McFadden is clearly influenced by Toni Morrison and the notions of the spirit world in this book are reminiscent of those in "Beloved." However, as the book progressed I feel as though we lost our way a bit. While I realize that Money, Mis ...more
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Kinda blown away. Wasn't haaaaardly expecting THIS story. Well done. Well done. Wish it had been longer. ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
‘I am Money. Money Mississippi.’

The township of Money, Mississippi is the narrator of this story which focusses on the Hilson and Bryant families during the 20th century. While two significant and dreadful events - the destructive Mississippi flood of 1927 and the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 - are part of this story, it’s the people who dominate the story. And it works because while readers as individuals may not believe in animism or in previous existence, how can we resist the voice of the t
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
The best way to describe this book is a haunting read, thoroughly engrossing yet a bit painful at the same time.

I've seen this book described as a fictionalized story of Emmett Till (the 14-year old African American boy in 1950s Mississippi who was murdered after reportedly flirting with a white woman), but it really is a whole lot more than that. It traces the evil that lived in that town, Money, Mississippi, which according to the book, existed well before Emmett Till even arrived from Chicago
Apr 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Gathering of Waters begins with provocative insights into the human spirit: “…your body does not have a soul; your soul has a body, and souls never, ever die”; and, the Native and African American’s concept of animism: “… the idea that souls inhabit all objects, living things, and even phenomena “, they fly from one home to the next, as each is destroyed or dies. Then, the author shares the definition of the Mississippi River: the translation comes from the Chippewa meaning "g
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I picked up Gathering of Waters after seeing a very positive review on here by my friend, Kristi. As usual, she was dead on - this book was fantastic. Narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi, this novel reminds us of the far reaching impact of hatred and racism, as well as the redemptive power of kindness and love. I don't want to give anything away, as I could not turn the pages fast enough, but I will say that this is the first book ever that left me covered, head to toe, with goosebumps as ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-writers
"Chapter 1 is luscious. This holds the promise of beautiful storytelling."

And this held true through the end. It was a story told across generations, through the memory of Money, Mississippi. The pacing was quick and spirited. It seemed to be a tale of many things, but mostly the timelessness of love and evil, embodied in spirit.
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To make sure Emmett Till’s story never dies is what Bernice did with this one. My 5th book by her and she found a way to create a storyline leading to the connection of a heartache that took place in 1955.

This story goes further back and originates in a time where a hooker named Esther damaged others because her beauty was used against her. She was isolated because of her beauty, abused, and only used for her body. Once dead, her spirit only carried evil and hate. That evil took control of two
Jaime Boler
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden (Akashic Books; 250 pages; $15.95).

In her seventh novel, Gathering of Waters, author Bernice L. McFadden skillfully combines history with folklore and magical realism. She also re-imagines the 1955 brutal murder of Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi. What results is a breathtaking literary masterpiece of epic proportions.

Gathering of Waters is notable because Ms. McFadden does something in her book that is not often done. She tells her story from the
Melissa Davis
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just finished this amazing, moving book and am a puddle of hopeful tears. What a heartwrenching, beautiful, difficult, truth-filled story. The true events woven with fantasy was just expertly done, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Bernice L McThadden is a must-read author. Her stories leave you beautifully changed.
Karen Miller
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
No, I’m not talking about the greenbacks in your wallet. I’m talking about Money, Mississippi – a small town in the northwestern tip of Mississippi.
A small town which is holds a tragic place in the annals of Civil Rights.
The small town in Mississippi where 14-year-old African boy named Emmett Till was brutally murdered.
Also the small town which is the main character for nationally best-selling author Bernice McFadden’s latest book – Gathering of Waters.
The town is the narrator in this
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2012-reads
There are books that I love and there are books that I treasure. When I finished the last page of Gathering of Waters, I knew that this book would be that latter. It is one of those books that after I'm done reading, I go back and read certain passages again and again, and then later go back and reread the whole book before mailing it to my sister and ordering another one for myself. The only trouble with a book like this one is finding a way to put my love of it into words.

Gathering of Waters i
Feb 26, 2012 rated it liked it

"Both the Native man and the African believed in animism, which is the idea that souls inhabit all objects, living things, and even phenomena. When objects are destroyed and bodies perish, the souls flit off in search of a new home."

When I read this quote in the early pages of Gathering of Waters, I was prepared to love the book. That did not quite happen, though I mostly enjoyed reading it. The trouble for me was an unevenness of intensity in the story, because the subject matter is intense, vi
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Spirits Among the Living

Welcome to Money, Mississippi, a town of secrets and spirits. When people die, are their souls truly at rest? In her latest novel, McFadden weaves a tale of fantasy and history as she uses her own imagination to create a background story for the Emmitt Till tragedy.

“Gathering of Waters” begins with an introduction to Esther, the restless soul of a dead prostitute who will influence many lives in decades to follow. Esther inhabits the body of Doll, a preacher's wife wh
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've finished my first reading, taken in huge bites. Soon I will go back to
dine on it, savoring it bit by bit.

GATHERING OF WATERS is told by the town of Money, Mississippi. (I think this is first time I've read a story told by a place.) Though it's not a large book (252 pages), this moving tale covers decades of interesting characters that make up the Hilson and Bryant families.

If Money sounds familiar to you, it's probably because of it's infamous ties to history. It was in Money that young Emm
Tami Winbush
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I’ve done a review before on a book of Ms. McFadden titled Glorious. The author wowed me with this book, and has done the same with Gathering of Waters. As you can tell from the description above, the book sounds WONDERFUL! But the book is so much more! The book is raw with emotion, life, and experience. Not only do you feel for the characters, you are transformed into the characters and experience everything that they do. I have said this on Twitter in regards to this book:

Finished this book to
Chris Horne
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm 24 chapters into Bernice McFadden's "Gathering of Waters," and I'm enthralled. It's a book I'd recommend to anyone that likes a good story and one I'd insist fans of good literary fiction pick up. The book blurbs make this seems like it is almost entirely about the murder of Emmett Till, the young black man who came South from Chicago to stay with family in 1955, but there's so much more to it. The way McFadden traces generations of families leading into that summer in 1955 gives the story s ...more
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked it
I'd rate Gathering of Waters more like 3.5 stars. I see why so many people loved this book. It was a quick and enjoyable read but as soon as I started to fall in love with the story, McFadden would add some distracting detail. While I understand that this is a work of Historical Fiction, I don't understand the direction McFadden went with the Emmett Till story. She could have stuck more closely to the facts without taking away from her story. Also, the Hurricane Katrina tie-in (and the entire en ...more
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2013 Clutch Readi...: Gathering of Waters--Bernice McFadden May 2013 Read 32 60 Jun 06, 2013 12:05PM  

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BERNICE L. McFADDEN is the author of ten critically acclaimed novels including Praise Song for the Butterflies (Long listed for the 2019 Women's Prize in Fiction ) The Book of Harlan (winner of a 2017 American Book Award and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Fiction) Sugar, Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, The Warmest December, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ C ...more

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Heads up, history nerds!   Historical fiction remains one of the busiest and most popular genres in the book business. It can be tricky just to...
33 likes · 6 comments
“Listen, if you choose to believe nothing else that transpires here, believe this: your body does not have a soul; your soul has a body, and souls never, ever die.” 26 likes
“The next day the stock market crashed. Hemmingway didn’t quite understand what
it all meant, but from the way the white people in town were running around like
chickens without heads, she took it as an omen.”
More quotes…