I love Coates writing style. When I read Between the World and Me and We Were Eight Years in Power, I wished that I could write like him, with his style and vocabulary. He says things the way I would want to say them. That is why I read The Water Dancer and nothing has changed. I still wish I could write like Coates but the thing I like best about him is that I know that I cannot because I have not and will not experience life the way he has. That is true for nearly every other human being but I find it especially true after reading The Water Dancer.
The Water Dancer is the kind of book I imagine my kids will read in school. It’s a thought I had several times while reading it. The antagonists of the book aren’t the terrible slave drivers of, let’s say Django Unchained. They are the “good” slave masters. That helps show how terrible slavery really was. Even the “good” ones separated families out of spite or convenience. The “good” ones still saw slaves as inferior human beings, if they saw them as humans at all.
This book follows the story of a slave named Hiram Walker who is the son of the slave owner. He is far more talented and capable than his father’s white son and yet has to serve him. The comparison is infuriating and Coates captures it perfectly. It is unbelievable that this is Coates’ first novel. His writing is superb and he tells a story that is captivating, emotional, and relevant. As I mentioned, I think this book will be taught in schools very soon and it should be.