By Way of Water (SFWP)
By Charlotte Gullick
A unique look at the Jehovah Witnesses in the rural western United States and the logging industry in Northern California during the 1970s, By Way of Water addresses the devastating effects of poverty on rural families. Struggling to feed their children in an unforgiving California forest when there are no logging jobs to be found, Jake and Dale Colby make personal vows that only make matters worse. Jake will not accept help from the government or his neighbors, and Dale won’t allow him to hunt, believing her faith will sustain them. But one other member of the family makes a promise to herself. Seven-year-old Justy believes that she alone can hold the family together, even when her father’s violence resurfaces. With a clear insight and the deepest empathy, Justy isolates the stark realities around her, even as she dreams with her mother of a safe world that only God can promise.
“Gullick’s debut novel is a lovingly rendered story of a family and a community surrendering angrily to changing times . . . few authors have paid attention to characters descended from Steinbeck’s and Norris’s, and its refreshing to see a novel that does justice to this forgotten pocket of the country.” —Publishers Weekly
“The deepest beliefs of a husband and wife come into conflict in this debut novel set in the late 1970s in a California forest threatened by the opening of a mine. Gullick deftly touches on wider issues of environmentalism and racism, and her characters are well drawn. A heartfelt first novel.” —Booklist
“By Way of Water is a work of exquisite beauty.” —Jayne Anne Phillips