Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Solace of Water

Solace is defined as "comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness." In Elizabeth Byler Younts' hard-to-put-down novel, The Solace of Water, we meet three women who are in need of solace.

Delilah - a mother grieving the death of one of her children.
Emma - a wife hiding the secret of her husband's addiction to alcohol.
Sparrow - Delilah's teenage daughter struggling to deal with the guilt of her brother's death.


This beautifully told story is set in a small town in Pennsylvania in the 1950s and is told through chapters that alternate between the three perspectives of Delilah, Emma and Sparrow.

The book opens from Delilah's perspective. From the first sentence ("My skin was the same color as the soil."), we are drawn into her story. Delilah and her preacher husband move their family from Alabama (where there are signs and customs that dictate where blacks can eat and shop) to the north (where, supposedly, blacks have much more freedom). The move is designed to give the family a fresh start after the death of their young son; however, Delilah finds it hard to move forward and keeps herself distant from their new community and church family.

Behind their new home, there's a wooded area with a creek, and on the other side of the woods is Emma's home in the Amish community where her husband serves as a deacon. While Emma strives to hide the fact that her husband is drinking the communion wine, she continues to grieve for the premature daughter she lost years before. The Amish preacher admonishes the community to avoid contact with the whites and blacks in the small town as much as possible to avoid getting drawn into the conflicts that arise when a young black boy falls in love with a young white girl.

Sparrow often retreats to the woods, and eventually to Emma's home, as she avoids her mother and the rift that has come between them since her brother's death. Sparrow is also befriended by Emma's teenage son, who is also caught up in his parent's secrets.

As the story progresses, these three characters form friendships that help them eventually begin to overcome their grief and move forward in their lives as they each find solace.

There's a beautiful scene in the book when Delilah is wandering through the woods in her grief. It's a Sunday morning, and at one point she looks out toward Emma's house and sees a line of black buggies beside the barn and hears loud, slow singing coming from the Amish community's church service. She then meanders back toward the other end of the woods and looks out to see her church - the yard is filled with cars and she hears singing (a livelier beat with clapping) coming from the Sunday worship service. What a poignant reminder that despite their differences, there's much that is similar about the lives of Delilah and Emma.

Along with the main theme of friendship, there are many deep topics woven throughout this novel - grief, prejudice, kindness, love, secrets, guilt, forgiveness, etc. I highly recommend this book (which I received free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review)!

2 comments:

Eileen T said...

I’ve added it to the list. Thanks for the recommendation.

Patio Postcards said...

Always appreciate a book review & recommendation. I'l check to see if our library cares.