Reviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Sometimes you just need to read a good, strong, dark novel. The Water Children is certainly that kind of book.

Anne Berry weaves a tale of four very different people from all walks of life whose lives end up becoming much entwined. Owen, Catherine, Sean and Naomi have all had something terrible or tragic happen to them at various points in their lives that they cannot shake and the power of water moves them all. Some stories involve water as the catalyst of tragedy and others see water as an escape, a refuge from the personal horror they have endured. However, the four see water as an entity, and there is no denying the huge impact it has on each of their lives and decisions on so many levels.

The Water Children is not broken up into individual sections so it does take a minute to figure out which story you are now following. When the characters become entwined, it becomes more difficult to see who is speaking and how certain people became interjected in others’ lives. The relationships that develop between the four are not always pretty, are a bit confusing and all ring with that certain level of sadness that seems to move as a strong undercurrent to the entire book.

Owen, who had the most tragic experience with water initially, seems to be the most relatable character followed after by Catherine who also had a traumatic experience as a child. Sean and Naomi are a bit harder to like and enjoy, let alone relate to. This stark division between the four seems intentional at times, and it is clear as the novel progresses that there is much more to these two than they expose on the surface.

Berry does a nice job of keeping the text flowing without stuffing it full of unnecessary details and descriptions. Her words seem to match the personalities of the four main characters seamlessly and as each character’s story unfolds, the reader really does feel as the character is sitting directly in front of them. While it was clear that Berry wanted to highlight each individual story and then ultimately bring them together, I did have a hard time finding her unifying theme or reasoning for doing so. There seemed to be a lack of a strong message or ultimate climax to the ending.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.