Title: The Solace of Water
Author: Elizabeth Byler Younts
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: June 5, 2018
About the Book:
“Younts has set herself apart with this exquisite story of friendship and redemption . . . I’ll be talking about this book for years to come.” —Rachel Hauck, New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress
In a time of grief and heartache, an unlikely friendship provides strength and solace.
After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.
Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.
With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.
Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom—and has the power to transform a broken heart.
Wow, talk about a book that will emotionally wreck you! This book had me gripped from the very beginning. I knew going in that the book would be emotionally charged based on the description, but I had no way of knowing just how deep that emotional connection would take me!
The Solace of Water takes place during the Jim Crowe days of the 50’s in America. Sparrow and her family move from Montgomery in the south to Sinking Creek in the north. While the south was more visual in their segregation with signs posting their racial distinctions, the north was more subtle in their approach, but just as brutal in their enforcement. Without going too political, the book clearly described the energy of the times. While the “blacks and whites” had their battles between them, the Amish attempted to be separate from all of it, often to the point of ignorance. They didn’t see the big deal in fighting over something as trivial as the color of one’s skin, but they understood the separations due to religion. The dynamics and complexity of the strife between the groups was felt throughout the entire story.
This story was beautifully written, and it would be impossible to read it without your heart breaking for several of the characters. The story was told from the point-of-view of Sparrow, her mother Delilah (Dee), and their Amish neighbor Emma. Each character was wrestling with deep rooted pain and guilt over things they may or may not have had any control over. Their brokenness is manifested in different ways for each character. Sparrow can’t let go of the guilt that she feels responsible for her little brother Carver’s death along with the fact she wishes she could have taken his place. Delilah blames Sparrow for Carver’s death and can’t seem to let him go. Emma wrestles with the guilt of hiding her husband’s alcoholism for years, the pain of losing a baby daughter before she could take her first breaths in the world, as well as the guilt over things she has hidden from her own husband. Each woman has battles that they are dealing with that are much deeper than the color of their skin or the church they attend. They looked beyond those differences in order to be a help to one another in their greatest moments of need.
My heart absolutely broke for Sparrow’s character. Throughout the book you see her looking to pain to help her cope. Emma’s son Johnny knew some of it and tried to help her, but she learned quickly how to hide her wounds. It was only a matter of time before they could no longer be hidden though, and it was in several of those moments that I confess to a whole lot of crying. It was in these moments, when Sparrow’s heart was on the table, that I broke the most for her.
This was an amazingly well written story, and one that will certainly rip at you emotionally. It will also get you to see past the perceived issues and instead travel deeper to the desperate pleas of the heart. I highly recommend this book, but also warn that some of the subject matter could be very difficult for some readers to handle. Be prepared for an emotional ride!
*I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Bloggers and the author in hopes of an honest review. I was not obligated to give a positive review. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Age Appropriateness/Content Warnings: The Solace of Water was a heavily emotional read that dealt with multiple painful subjects. Throughout the book Sparrow suffers from increasing levels of self-harm and crippling heartache over her guilt in her brother’s death. There is some mild domestic violence during some intense moments, along with sharing some more mature adult struggles. I personally wouldn’t recommend this book to younger readers.