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Fire Is Your Water

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  186 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Sacred chants are Ada Franklin’s power and her medicine. By saying them, she can remove warts, stanch bleeding, and draw the fire from burns. At age twenty, her reputation as a faith healer defines her in her rural Pennsylvania community. But on the day in 1953 that her family’s barn is consumed by flame, her identity as a healer is upended. The heat, the roar of the blaze ...more
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published March 15th 2017 by Swallow Press
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
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Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Generally when it comes to my next read, I am a planner; I know what’s next, what it’s about, and whether it’s available at my library. Recently, I threw out those rules and plucked Fire is Your Water from the New Fiction shelf simply because I was drawn to the unique cover. My reward was a beautifully insightful tale of faith and love.

You know how sometimes you just get a good feeling about a book within the first few pages? Well, this one. Minnick’s writing style is thoughtful, open, and sinc
Rebecca Elswick
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fire is Your Water is a wonderful story filled with family, loss and healing, and faith. The plot is fast-paced and at times, heart-stopping, but it's the characters who kept me turning the page. To me they were real living and breathing people. The young Ada Franklin struggles with her faith and her lost ability to heal after a fire. Will Burke is a tortured soul who learns the meaning of love when he rescues and tames a raven he names Cicero. At the heart of this story is fire. Even with all o ...more
Jim Minick
Nov 20, 2016 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Thrilled to see this come out.
Jun 19, 2017 added it
The novel takes place in the Pennsylvania mountains in 1953 where Ada Franklin can heal by faith. Sacred chants are her power and her medicine. By saying them, she can remove warts, stanch bleeding, and draw fire from burns. At age twenty, her reputation defines her. The family has a barn built of oak that was built by her great grandfather that is their pride and joy. A fire breaks out in the barn caused by green hay stored in it. Her mother is burned badly and one of the cows is killed. They m ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I first started this book, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I only picked it up so I could support our local library and attend a reading by Jim Minick. I wasn't sure about the character, Cicero or the folk healing aspect of the story. I have to say Cicero quickly became my favorite character. I found the story interesting and the characters well developed. I also enjoyed Jim Minick's reading and am happy we have such a wonderful library staff to plan free events. ...more
Julie Renee
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My local bookshop hosted author Jim Minick last week, as he read from this book. The premise intrigued me. The author shared that, during the process of writing Fire is Your Water, he discovered that the overarching question was, "How does a healer heal (herself)?". I was hooked. I wanted to see what the story revealed.
Minick shared some signposts, too, regarding the significance of the book's cover design (hint: Take off the jacket!! There's more inside...)

There came a point about halfway to tw
Ada Franklin has a rare gift for actual faith healing, or powwowing, until something happens during a barn fire that seems to take her gift away and cause her to doubt herself. Will Burk has been finished with church and God since he was 12 years old, perpetually angry about any God who would have chosen to take his mother away. Cicero is a raven that Will found injured and nursed back to health, who understands far more about the world than a bird has a right to. Told through these three perspe ...more
Jane Dutton
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've been excited to read this book since its release, especially since I grew up in the community where the story takes place; my father worked summers at the same Blue Mountain Esso/Exxon station during the childhood; my mother worked at that Howard Johnson's when she was a young adult - and my mother's farming family boarded several of the workers who built the PA Turnpike near Blue Mountain. I also had the privilege of growing up with author Jim Minick and still consider him a friend (as wel ...more
Going by Goodreads definition 2 stars is 'Just Ok' and I think that's pretty spot on with this one for me.
I initially really liked this, but I expected a bit more than the simple love story we got so as it progressed I got more bored. I also got quite a bit frustrated with our main female protagonist who didn't seem to have any agency outside what the story needed her to do. She was upset when it moved the story and fine when it wasn't needed, with no clear reason for either. She knew the
Susie Zullinger
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just finished Jim Minick's novel, Fire is Your Water. It is one of those rare books that you don't want to end... Local flavor, wonderful characters, and a cranky raven more insightful than some humans... I live in the area that is the setting of the novel; rural Pennsylvania is quaint and beautiful, and Minick's description of the landscape adds another fascinating dimension to the story. I loved this book, and can't wait for more. Highly recommended! ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually enjoy "A Novels" novels, but I liked this one a lot. It has rich details of daily life; a convincing sense of place that stirred my own memories; and convincing, complicated, likeable characters with internal struggles I actually cared about and that didn't feel forced.

I was really impressed by the author's ability to write Ada's deeply mystical, religious way of seeing the world and Will's equally deep scepticism and atheism in a way that felt real and without narrative judgeme
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books this year! The story is told from three viewpoints of Ada, Will, and Cicero; inhabitants of rural Pennsylvania in the 1950's. We experience their versions of the summer days. The writing is wonderfully rich. All of my senses experienced the story from the scratching of brambles as Will climbs the hillside, the smell of flowers in the evening as Ada walks, the calling of the raven, the taste of shoe fly pie, and the view of the valley at night. Thank you Jim Minick for te ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The value I give a good book is based on the tautness of the story line, the depth and complexity of the characters, and that I cannot figure the outcome and am astonished with each word as it is revealed. Jim Minick, In Fire Is Your Water, hits the marks and does not disappoint.
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fire is Your Water is a remarkable novel of love and loyalty, tragedy and triumph, structured with a unique first-person voice that chimes in like a Greek chorus to impart sly insights into the characters and plot. You'll be rooting for Ada, Will, and the raven Cicero too! ...more
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ada Franklin is a young lady growing up in rural Pennsylvania in the early 1950s. She is one of a few people in her community with the ability to powwow, a form of healing through chanting and laying hands on the afflicted. When her family's barn is engulfed in flames and her mother is badly burned, however, Ada finds herself unable to call upon her talent. Will Burke is a young man beginning to set foot in the adult world, newly hired at a filling station near the restaurant where Ada works as ...more
Timothy Grills
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
"A man of courage is also full of faith." - Marcus Cicero

When a young woman named Ada loses her ability to powwow, a form of spiritual healing that is channeled through the belief in her God, she is thrown into a series of trials and tribulations that test the very faith that she has always believed in. Then, she meets Will Burk, a loud and slightly obnoxious boy who admires her crooked teeth and phoebe voice. As the chapters alternate between the two characters, some interesting characteristics
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I have to say that this book puzzled me greatly. For about the first 70% of the book, I didn't like it very much - while Minick's pacing is fast, there's a lot of unnecessary dialogue in the book, and overall it seemed like the characters were waiting around - the ones that weren't extraneous entirely. (view spoiler). Many people will dismiss this novel as ...more
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The story line kept me interested and was unpredictable right up to the very end, and the characters were realistic and fully developed. It's a story of love and loss, faith and pushing faith, and searching for fulfillment while remaining true to oneself. There is an element of what I will call fantasy, which is not always my cup of tea, but I enjoyed it here because of its insightfulness and humor. When I finished, the first thing I wanted was to talk to others who h ...more
Anna Harris-Parker
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I will share here what I sent to the author, my colleague and friend: "After having to set it aside to move and for school commitments, I was able to return to FIYW last week. I finished reading it this morning, and was sad to see the story end. I was, however, glad that Cicero . . . finished the book.

"Thank you for the gift, and for the terrific story. I look forward to sharing it with family and fellow readers this summer."

And I meant every word. I wrestled with Cicero's character, but that b
Rita Quillen
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
FIRE IS YOUR WATER comes under the category of Magic Realism, I guess? Whatever you call it, it's brilliant. You see, it's historical fiction, romance, literary, spiritual, Christian....forget the categories. IT HAS A GENIUS TALKING, WRITING CROW NAMED CICERO who is my favorite character, the wisest and wise-ass-est voice in the book who serves as our spirit guide through this complicated love story between a woman of deep faith and spiritual power and the man she loves, who is a committed doubt ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
2 1/2 stars.

This was a weird book. A mix of corny and irreverent. With alternating chapters, one narrated by a raven. huh? Almost read like "Christian fiction" and I had to check the book for that little sticker the library puts on the spine. It's not though. If Christian fiction is your thing then perhaps you'll like this. As for me? Not so much.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I liked the idea of this book...but for me, it ended up being pretty boring with a boring main female character who is also kind of a brat. It was way too long and repetitive with a lackluster ending. And overall, I'm not sure I really understood the purpose of the bird. Maybe I didn't read it well enough...and that's because I was bored. Haha. ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
A beautiful novel to read in the middle of winter in Montana. Minick is a master of imagery and atmosphere, and green summertime Appalachian wilderness makes the gray, white, and brown outside a little more bearable. I don't particularly like the anthropomorphized raven chapters. They feel false. ...more
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved many things about this book. A little mysticism, a little love story, healing (conventional and faith), forests, farming. I loved the history of the railroad, tunnels, interstates, HoJos, the filling station, so sweet. And who doesn't love a tart, smart, strong, sneering....Raven. I loved the relationship between the man, his aunt, and the raven. ...more
Nov 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I don't have any issues with the raven as one of the narrators, but I was hoping for more complex internal dialog from any one of them. Each character had their singular demon, and the faith message was quite weak. Mostly, it just didn't ring true to have these characters from 'two different sides of the mountain' in Appalachia and no one speaks with any kind of an accent. ...more
Katie Campbell
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Nothing about this book stood out to me in any way, good or bad. I was a bit surprised based on other reviews, and kept waiting for something to turn but for me it was just a bit bland the whole way through.
Terri Walker
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting story. Takes place in the 1950’s rural Pennsylvania. A love story between a young girl who has healing abilities based on her faith with a young man whose faith has been tested who does not believe the same way as she does. Also he rescues an amazingly smart Raven.
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just finished reading this and I really enjoyed it. I loved the characters and description of the setting was just beautiful. I hated for it to end. Keep writing Jim!
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting. I enjoyed the raven's view. ...more
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Jim Minick is the author of five books, including the novel Fire Is Your Water (Ohio UP, 2017), and The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family (St. Martin’s, 2012), winner of the SIBA Best Nonfiction Book of the Year Award. Minick has also written a collection of essays, Finding a Clear Path, two books of poetry, Her Secret Song and Burning Heaven, and he edited All There Is to Keep by Rita ...more

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