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Paperback Living Water Book

ISBN: 0060000880

ISBN13: 9780060000882

Living Water

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

Sprung from the pages of The New Testament, Living Water is a gripping and lyrical portrayal of a young women's search for identity set against the strict social confines of the time. This extraordinary first novel brings to life one of the most mysterious and intriguing characters in the Bible - the woman at the well. In a village torn apart by senseless violence, a young girl struggles to mute her passion for life to survive the harsh social restrictions...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A gripping, at times lusty, tale and an engaging read

This is a gripping, at times lusty, tale based on the life story of the Samaritan Woman. LIVING WATER is not a stereotypically lightweight, biblical novel. It's for readers who are ready for a challenge and willing to look for truths presented in nontraditional forms.Author Obery Hendricks, a seminary "professor of biblical interpretation," calls this, his first novel, "an African American retelling of the New Testament story of the woman at the well who was married to five successive husbands at a time when women did not have the right to choose either marriage or divorce." Ethnic overtones are evident in some characters' nicknames (Sonny Boy and Big Mama) and patterns of dialogue ("Oh Lordy, we're in trouble now" and "Don't he talk sweet"). But there are deeper parallels: The ravages of slavery and harsh control influence the heart of the story --- the Samaritan men being humiliated and beaten down by the Romans; the women being powerless property of the husbands who have lost respect for themselves and take out their frustration on their women.The book opens with a short, startling death scene of the Samaritan woman's fifth husband. Then Part 1 is a flashback, from prenuptial childhood up to that pivotal, bloody mess. She --- her name is Maryam, though significantly we aren't told this for 250 pages --- is a spunky, in-your-face kind of kid who sadly learns, from her kindhearted grandmother, Ma Tee, that spunk is not acceptable for girls. "Atop the coarse woolen tunic that is [the girl's] usual attire is now draped a stale, heavy garment of carefulness. Ma Tee has tried her best to craft it to her size, yet it does not fit. Still, she will dutifully struggle to wear it, though its weight will sag her heart to its knees." And this narrative comment comes even before she's married to and beaten down by her first husband and abandoned by numbers two, three, and four.This is a feminist story, but not drastically so; it is egalitarian more than man bashing. The big cast of characters --- five (or is it six?) husbands, three father figures, a brother-in-law, Messiah Jesus, and more --- include bad men and good; similarly with the Samaritan women. In a supplemental reader's guide, Hendricks explains that the Samaritan woman's journey "to be free of male domination and mistreatment was also my own journey to free myself from the roles of dominator and mistreater."Theologically conservative readers may rankle at some feminist theology, but, again, this is not as radical as it might be. Hendricks interprets biblical passages (mostly from Proverbs, once from Luke) that personify Wisdom (a feminine Hebrew word) as being descriptive of "the woman-side of God."For a novel that is replete with social commentary applicable to any age --- including a chapter on an itinerant, fraudulent faith healer --- LIVING WATER is an engaging read. Part 2 --- in which Maryam claims her name, takes up with a man who loves her and treats her well, and becomes a disciple of J

Living Water leaves you thirsty NO MORE....

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Dr. Hendricks for Booking Matters Magazine in February 2003, however at the time, I had not finished his novel (Living Water). I am very happy to share that I recently finished the novel and was left almost speechless by it's contents. Dr. Hendricks' dug really dip to pen such a powerful account of the well known bible story of the woman at the well. Growing up in church, I've heard the story (like many of you) preached, taught probably 1,000 different ways...however, I have never pondered who this woman really was. I never thought that maybe she (Maryam) had a story. In my quest to read novels that are historically based, I could NOT have chosen a better book to begin with. Living Water gives any reader a front row seat into the life of the "Woman at the Well" beginning with her childhood. By the end of the book, you feel as if you know her personally and you understand her reputation as having had five husbands. (you meet the husbands in the story) Reading this novel opened up a plethora of new words for me, as Dr. Hendricks is a master storyteller, gifted writer and scholar. While challenging in some parts, the more I read, the harder it became for me to put the book down. Throughout the story, original biblical names are used, which makes the story even more interesting. The character development is super and the story flows very well. Some might view this as a challenging read but one, which will leave you thirsty no more. I highly recommend this to any avid reader, male and female, clergy, book's a GREAT read. Hats off to Dr. Hendrick's for giving us insight into the lives of these bible story characters, especially Maryam. Thanks for reminding us that even the people in the bible had/have significant stories....I await your next novel....with great anticipation.

The touch of a stranger

Obery Hendricks has taken a scene from the Bible and transformed it into a poetic novel about the conditions of Samaritan women during the times of Jesus. No one knows the name of the woman Jesus talked with at the well in the book of John, chapter 4, but this novel gives her a name. It also takes us through her five tragic marriages and gives her the strength to speak out in a country where women were considered worthless. While the novel takes place 2000 years ago, it is easy to slip into the mood of the book as attitudes and conditions of life for Samaritans under the harsh rule of the Romans and the disdain of the Jews unfolds. Unfortunately, it calls to mind some modern injustices that still exist. Hendricks perhaps takes some liberties with Jesus toward the end of the book that I am sure will ruffle the feathers of some. The novel is an eye opener that explains some of the present day beliefs that we continue to maintain regarding the place of women, what spirituality is all about and above all, what constitutes love. Reviewed by Alice HolmanThe RAWSISTAZ Reviewers

Deeply moving and empowering - Nourishment for the Soul!

Obery Hendricks' first novel celebrates womanhood, the resilience of the human spirit, and the healing power of love and forgiveness. Living Water expands on the biblical story (John 4:7-29) of the life of the "woman at the well," an unnamed Samaritan woman with a questionable background (five ex-husbands and a sixth common-law husband) who encounters Jesus at the local well. Hendricks effectively weaves this biblical story and context with African American mores and experience into an examination of the effects of oppression and self-hatred on relationships and community. The reader is immediately confronted with questions of her innocence or guilt in the first pages of the book that describe a dying man's last moments.Hendricks uses this woman's sometimes painful and troubling story to explore how a male-dominated society sanctioned its oppression of women. When her loving grandmother, Ma Tee, dies, she loses her primary source of love, wisdom, and refuge. She must learn how to navigate and survive the customs and rules designed to control her with little assistance except from a few doting community elders. Local custom forces her marriage to the highest bidder and places her at the mercy of the first of five very difficult husbands. Circumstances and cultural dictates force her to move from husband to husband, with each man taking away a bit of her humanity, leaving her emotionally broken and nearly destroyed with little recourse except to fight back. She ultimately finds the strength that enables her to heal, forgive, and embrace a man and community with true love and spirit.

The perfect story!

This novel is a gem! It combines imagination and beautiful language to tell a story that will appeal to anyone who enjoys fine literature. It was a pleasure to read - a rare book that takes an unique (and captivating) approach to a topic and "re-invents" it for the reader. The emotions that were raised and the characters developed in this book are still with me. I read it after hearing the author on Tavist Smiley's show on NPR - and was extremely grateful I did. I STRONGLY recommend it!
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