Nubian Circle Book Club

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Living Water Book Review

Phyllis Rhodes

Living Water Quenched My Thirst!

Obery Hendricks' Living Water is an inspirational work of historical fiction.  It explores the popular biblical parable of Jesus and the woman at the well but expounds upon the unnamed woman's life in ancient times under the rule of the Romans and laws of Moses.  In the novel, the author gives her a name, Maryam, and delivers a well-developed character who struggles with self-identity, conformity, and the newly discovered Christian values of forgiveness, universal love, and equality.

Maryam is born with "gibora" - a strong, outgoing, free spirit; something that women are not to possess or openly demonstrate in a male-dominated society; thus she is taught to suppress it in order to avoid shaming her father/family and to make her more desirable as a potential wife.  With no protection from an abused and broken mother, the young Maryam is wed to a lecherous, spoiled husband and is subjected to his perverse sexual demands.  Although she tries her best to appease her husband, he exercises his right to "erwat dabar" and is publicly divorced.  Consequentially, she is cast aside by society's communal laws, disowned by her father, and falls victim to public scorn resulting in her name becoming synonymous with impropriety.  She is clearly a victim of poor circumstances and hard luck and even the most discerning reader is compelled to empathize with her trials and tribulations.  Her next four marital relationships are wonderfully conceived and creatively written by the author.  They provide much food-for-thought regarding the woman's role within marriages and in ancient Hebrew society. 

Hendricks cleverly intermingles modern day African American vernacular and misguided values regarding skin hues, racial superiority, etc. which add practicability to an otherwise archaic story.  Maryam struggles with oppression (to the point of nearly losing herself) and concepts of conformity throughout her life and receives the answers to her lifelong questions during her encounter with Jesus.  Through Him, she finds renewed strength and courage to share the message of forgiveness, gender/race equality, and universal love among the very villagers who disparaged her.

This is a powerful story of strength, redemption, and liberation with a message that will transcend time.  It is highly recommended to those who enjoy inspirational and moralistic works.

The Nubian Circle Book Club rating for Living Water is 3.5 out of 5 stars. We welcome your comments and thoughts about this book review.  Please e-mail us at: