"An impressive debut. Emotionally honest with lyricism and charm to spare, Nyani Nkrumah's Wade in the Water depicts in riveting detail a racially charged Mississippi town, the secrets it holds, and the precious heart and soul of a young girl deserving love."—Diane McKinney-Whetstone, author of Our Gen and Tumbling
"Fearless. . . . Vividly bring[s] to life rural 1980s Mississippi."—People
"A dreamy, brutal, and revelatory reading experience that quickens the pulse and tugs the heart."—Diane McWhorter, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Carry Me Home
Resonant with the emotional urgency of Alice Walker's classic Meridian and the poignant charm of Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, a gripping debut novel of female power and vulnerability, race, and class that explores the unlikely friendship between a precocious black girl and a mysterious white woman in a small Mississippi town in the early 1980s.
Set in 1982, in rural, racially divided Ricksville, Mississippi Wade in the Water tells the story of Ella, a black, unloved, precocious eleven-year-old, and Ms. St. James, a mysterious white woman from Princeton who appears in Ella's community to carry out some research. Soon, Ms. St. James befriends Ella, who is willing to risk everything to keep her new friend in a town that does not want her there. The relationship between Ella and Ms. St. James, at times loving and funny and other times tense and cautious, becomes more fraught and complex as Ella unwittingly pushes at Ms. St. James's carefully constructed boundaries that guard a complicated past, and dangerous secrets that could have devastating consequences.
Told in two voices, Ella's and Ms. St. James's, and set around richly developed characters, this riveting, page turning coming of age story will keep readers entranced until the last shocking revelation.