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Arts & Culture
There are one million new books published each year. With so many books and so little time, where do you begin to find your next must-read? There’s the New York Times Bestseller list, the Goodreads app, the Cape Library’s Staff picks shelf and now Martin’s Must-Reads.Every Wednesday at 6:42 and 8:42 a.m., and Sunday at 8:18 a.m., Betty Martin recommends a must read based on her own personal biases for historical fiction, quirky characters and overall well-turned phrases. Her list includes WWII novels, biographies of trailblazers, novels with truly unique individuals and lots more. Reading close to 100 titles a year, Betty has plenty of titles to share.Local support for "Martin's Must Reads" comes from the Cape Girardeau Public Library and the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library.

Martin's Must Reads: 'The Water Dancer'

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“And I could only have seen her there on the stone bridge, a dancer wreathed in ghostly blue, because that was the way they would have taken her back when I was young..., they would have bound her and brought her across this one, because this was the bridge that fed into the turnpike that twisted its way through the green hills and down the valley before bending in one direction,and that direction was south.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and that’s a quote from the first page of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ novel The Water Dancer. The novel is written in the voice of 19 year old Hiram, both slave and illegitimate son to the master of the tobacco plantation, Lockless.

Life is incredibly hard and brutal for the slaves, or the Tasked, who serve the Quality. When Hiram puts his trust in the wrong person and is caught trying to escape, his life gets unbelievably harder until he is rescued by the Underground. They have perceived that he has the rare gift of Conduction, a means of teleporting via water and strong memories.

He spends a year learning to be an agent, some of that time in Philadelphia where to his utter amazement, people of both white and black skin work side by side. And then he goes back to Lockless for reconnaissance and to rescue two women who mean the world to him.

Filled with the awful realities of the atrocities perpetrated on people with dark skin, this book is also hopeful in describing the workings of the Underground Railroad and those who worked to right this country’s awful wrong including Moses, or Harriet Tubman.

If you’re looking for a dramatic story that, as the jacket says, “restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen”, then you must read The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

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