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Gathering of Waters
Bernice L. McFadden
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Gathering of Waters

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,292 ratings  ·  372 reviews
"McFadden works a kind of miracle -- not only do [her characters] retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises . . . Beautiful and evocative, "Gathering of Waters" brings three generations to life . . . The real power of the narrative lies in the richness and complexity of the characters. While they inhabit these ...more
Hardcover, 317 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Gale Cengage (first published January 31st 2012)
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Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kris by: Lawyer
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
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rowena by: Brown Girl Reading
"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
Read In Colour
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: On The Southern Literary Trail members Jayme and Chelsea
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.
Bernice McFadden
Aug 07, 2011 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
“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 ...more
After reading this book it will always stay on my mind. I never read a book where the town was the 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 ...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
Mar 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Brown Girl Reading
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.
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kinda blown away. Wasn't haaaaardly expecting THIS story. Well done. Well done. Wish it had been longer.
Jennifer (JC-S)
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘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
Apr 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kyra Atterbury
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, ...more
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
"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"

Can I give it 6 stars? 20 maybe? I don't say this easily but, this is the best book I've ever read.

I really don't know how I could possibly sum up my feelings for this. Money Mississippi may be etched in my heart forever now. A million tears for the love, hate, goodness, evil, beauty and ugliness that Bernice McFadden has laid out
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
nicole d.
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anything I want to say would seem to spoil it. I didn't know much about this one. I just buy anything she writes. The feeling I left with was the haunting of life passed trying to break through to love, to be seen, to protect those we love, but no sorry in not being here. Just wanting to be remembered.
Jaime Boler
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

"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,
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tami Winbush
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Chris Horne
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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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’ ...more
“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.” 23 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…