For twelve-year-old Martha “Sonny” Creech, there is no place more beautiful than her family’s cotton farm. She, her two brothers, and her parents work hard on their land—hoeing, planting, picking—but only Sonny loves the rich, dark earth the way her father does. When a tragic accident claims his life, her stricken family struggles to fend off ruin—until their rich, reclusive neighbor offers to help finance that year’s cotton crop. Sonny is dismayed when her mama accepts Frank Fowler’s offer; even more so when Sonny’s best friend, Daniel, points out that the man has ulterior motives. Sonny has a talent for divining water—an ability she shared with her father and earns her the hated nickname “water witch” in school. But uncanny as that skill may be, it won’t be enough to offset Mr. Fowler’s disturbing influence in her world. Even her bond with Daniel begins to collapse under the weight of Mr. Fowler’s bigoted taunts. Though she tries to bury her misgivings for the sake of her mama’s happiness, Sonny doesn’t need a willow branch to divine that a reckoning is coming, bringing with it heartache, violence—and perhaps, a fitting and surprising measure of justice.
As I said in my My Most Anticipated Books post, Donna Everhart books are always a priority. I requested this one as soon as I saw it on Netgalley, because her other two books had been favorites of mine. And while THE FORGIVING KIND was a different experience for me, I still believe Donna Everhart is a wonderful writer and this is a great and important book.
While I loved reading the first chapter and getting to know Sonny and her father, I admit I lost some interest when he died and the family had to continue with the business. I found the first half of the book rather slow, but I kept on going because I knew it wouldn’t disappoint me. And I’m so glad I did! This is a touching story about a family, about grief, love, racism, and friendship. And the importance of loyalty and never losng hope.
From one particular event on, I found this book unputdownable, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. This is not a thriller or a fast-paced aventure, but I was so consumed by the story that I needed to know what would happen next. My favorite storyline was the one involving Sonny’s friend, Daniel. There were some scenes that broke my heart and the ending almost made me cry… it’s not a happy story, but it remains hopeful.
This is a book that talks about many important themes and even though it’s set in the 50s, it’s still relevant today. Also, I have never heard of divining water (I’m sorry!), and I found it fascinating. I believe that, like all three books by Everhart, this novel would translate beautifully to the big screen (picture something like The Secret Life of Bees).
Have you read any of Donna Everhart books? 💙