Friday, July 17, 2009

Children of the Waters by Carleen Brice

This was the second book I purchased for my long train ride. I had read a series of positive reviews of Brice's first novel, which I now plan on reading.  This book tackles so many interesting ideas and experiences.  It is a truly modern novel, discussing topics such as interracial dating, treatment of young black males by the police, black male identity,  single parenting, raising children who are mixed race, fundamentalist Christianity, adoption and what truly determines a person's racial identity.  Few authors discuss such topics so insightfully and poignantly (at least few authors I have read).  Furthermore, one of the main characters in the novel is adopted but not told by her parents. This intrigues me as my mother has consistently said that she would never tell a child they were adopted -- this fact is made inherently more interesting by the fact that she is a psychologist (thankfully, we have pictures of my mother pregnant with me and my brothers so we know she isn't lying to us!).  The book also includes so much about a wide variety of topics I know very little about: veterinarians, Native American rituals, holistic healing, Lupus, Buddhism, and being mixed race.  I feel I learned a great deal from reading this book and that isn't always the case with fiction.

Brice creates such layered and real characters.  We get a sense of each character's thoughts, emotions, and feelings even though Billie and Trish are focused on the most. We see each character as a full-bodied individual. No detail is left out.  Like real people, all of the characters are flawed. Nick is unwilling to be a parent and scared of truly letting Billie inside his head. Billie is stubborn, OCD, controlling and unhappy to find out she is mixed race.  At times she is downright mean to her newly discovered sister. Trish is somewhat simple-minded and overbearing towards her son.  Will, goes from shoplifting to extreme piousness, believing deeply in the preaching of a corrupt priest.  Billie's adopted parents withhold the truth from her.

Overall, I was captivated by this book.  It is yet another example of a well-written, unique story written about a complex and slightly-dysfunctional family.  One of my favorite types of reads!

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