Water Street is an engaging novel that transports the reader to a middle-class neighborhood
in small town Stanford, Kentucky, USA. The residents are hardworking, law-abiding citizens who go to work, church, pay their
taxes, and raise their families to the best of their abilities. In the opening passages of the book, the author mentions that
every person has two stories to tell; one story by day and the other by night which is kept near the heart for safekeeping.
Wilkinsonallows the reader to experience both stories through the carefully crafted monologues and short narratives.
The novel opens with the manic-depressant Yolanda in the midst of a meeting with her psychiatrist. In her
session, the reader is casually introduced to a few Water Street residents her best friend, Mona, whom she idolizes, her brother,
KiKi, her husband, Junior, and a host of other characters who influenced her in childhood and adulthood. The beauty
of the novel is the reader will learn more about Mona, Kiki, Junior, Sandy, Maxine, et al in subsequent chapters via a series
of soliloquies or third person accounts. Through the selected medium, the reader observes how they tackle a host of issues
such as interracial relationships, marital problems (infidelity), quests for love, divorce, absentee parents, etc.
Because it is a small town and all the residents live on Water Street, the stories are interconnected and
the same characters are often mentioned in one or more stories. So for example, we hear about Mona, the best friend from Yolanda,
Mona, my little sister's best friend that I slept with from Kiki; Mona, in her own words, etc. We get up close and personal
viewpoints from mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, neighbors and friends.
One particular noteworthy item is that the author's skill in writing from the male perspective is equally compelling
as from the females. In "The Girl of My Dreams: Kiki", we find Kevin/Kiki calling
off the wedding after the rehearsal dinner, but not for the reasons one may think because of the title of the story. We also experience other male viewpoints in the coming of age stories "Water Street,
1979: Junior", "Between Men", and a principled man in search of love in "An Ordinary Man: Reverend Townsend."
The dialogue is mature, the writing is great, and the stories are painfully honest. These are not eccentric
or malevolent characters, in fact, they are so down-to-earth that they seem real, almost like ordinary folk instead of fictional
protagonists. Just as with non-fictional beings, the harsh realities of life strikes Water Street as with any other street
and the imperfections, vulnerabilities, pain, and joy of the characters are expertly revealed. Water Street's messages are
universal and timeless: the same people with the same issues can be found in the inner cities as well as the rural landscapes
in any decade.This is a great second novel by CrystalWilkinson; I must add her debut novel, Blackberries, Blackberries to
my list of books to check out this year.
The Nubian Circle Book Club rating for Water Street is 4.5 out of 5 stars. We
welcome your comments and thoughts about this book review. Please e-mail us at: NubianCircleClub@aol.com