Earlier this summer I checked out The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt after hearing that Holt was publishing a historical fiction novel. I tried reading it on two different occasions, but just never could get into it, and had to return it to the library. Then I read a review by The Fourth Musketeer that sang its praises. I felt compelled to try again. And this time, I loved the Water Seeker. I am not sure what the difference was this time around. I did get a better chance to start the novel with no interruptions, and I was better prepared for the slow pace of this book, and perhaps I was just in the mood for this type of historical fiction.
The Water Seeker begins in the 1830s as Jacob and his wife Delilah are making a life for themselves. Jacob is a dowser, someone who is able to find water for those looking to dig a well. This is a gift he was born with, something Jacob does not always embrace as he would rather be out hunting and trapping. Life is hard in the 1800s and when Delilah and Jacob have a child, Amos is not raised by his parents, but instead by his uncle Gil and his wife, Rebecca. While the first half of the novel is full of hardship and loss, the second half focuses more on the time Amos and Jacob spend on the Oregon Trail (and also more hardship and loss). Amid the struggles of daily life, there is still happiness and hope, and Holt has added some humor and made some interesting connections as well. The characters in this story made me want to laugh at times, but each was so likeable that I instantly fell in love with them all and wished for them to find happiness.
Unfortunately I can't see many children or young adults picking up this novel. I think as Margo at The Fourth Musketeer points out, the slow pace would cause young readers to give up fairly early on. I am so glad I decided to give this book another try. I have loved Holt's books in the past and this latest work is definitely a winner! I will be passing this title on to others looking for interesting historical fiction titles, hoping to entice others to give this one a chance!
Read a review of the Water Seeker by Margo at the Fourth Musketeer.