Griffin (St. Martin's Press)
March 4, 2003
Trade Paperback/288 pages
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". . . a gentle wave of a book . . . lacks the whitecaps and surfs to propel the reader?s interest."
". . . characters that seem to be merely treading water."
"Beautiful prose that touches the mind, but not necessarily the heart. "
Good literary fiction is subjective. What one likes, another may not. Gail Tsukiyama has written a gentle wave of a book, Dreaming Water, that unfortunately, for this reviewer, lacks the whitecaps and surfs to propel this reviewer’s interest. It is a technically superb novel with calming poetic prose, which may be part of the problem. In the story of Hana, a young woman who is dying of old age caused by Werner’s Disease, and her mother, Cate, who cares for her, this reader wanted more from the characters than Hana’s, “Lately, I’ve encountered all four seasons in my bones–the brittleness of summer, the wetness of spring, the cold of winter, and the dull ache of fall.” Beautiful prose that touches the mind, but not necessarily the heart.
It is as if the author has gone to extremes to avoid riptide emotionality and ended up instead with characters that seem to be merely treading water. They tend to come alive more toward the end of the book, when Laura, Hana’s best friend, brings her two teenage daughters to visit. Perhaps because even the author can’t contain teenagers’ innate curiosity and demands for the truth.
For most, however, Dreaming Water should make a perfect companion while they dangle their toes in water and contemplate the sunsets.
Reviewer: E. M. Kurecka