Title: H2O the Novel
Author: Austin Boyd and Brannon Hollingsworth
Publisher: AMG Publishers
Release date: November 02, 2011
Genre: Adult Christian
H2O is a strange story, and it took me a long time to get around to writing the review because I didn’t really know what to say about it. I think that’s because it has many layers of meaning—something rare and wonderful—and I responded better to some layers than others.
On the surface, it’s a well constructed and written story about Kate Pepper, a highly successful young business woman in Seattle, who starts having visions when water touches her skin. The visions take her over at unexpected and unwanted times and leave her unconscious. This throws her life into turmoil—how can you stay clean when you’re scared of the visions water can produce?—and makes holding down a high-powered job extremely difficult. Add an uncaring boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—and you get an idea of the extent of the problem.
Her best friend, and a delightful coffee shop owner and his simple waitress do their best to support her. Her search for answers leads her to long chat sessions with someone on the internet who has experience with this syndrome. She pushes aside the religious overtones of the visions and her interactions with the waitress and her internet pal, until she can’t bear it anymore.
In the words of the blurb—At the bottom of her dark well, desperate to get out of the water, there’s nowhere to reach but up . . .Kate ultimately finds romance and redemption through the advice of simple people who love her for who she is, not what she was.
On an emotional level, it was the story of a woman’s redemption and turning to Christ, and on a symbolic level, it was an allegory. The choice of water as the trigger for the visions was symbolic of cleansing, nurturing, a gift from heaven, the washing Christ’s feet and so on.
This was an unashamedly Christian book and one that enthusiastic Christians would love. It almost makes it into the realm of the wider reader. For some, the born again Christian layer may be a bit too much, for others, it will be okay, for me, it was on the edge.
What I liked
- the sensitive and realistic portrait of the open-hearted Down syndrome waitress.
- Christianity was written as a powerful spiritual experience rather than dogma.
- The person representing a follower of Christ was not a narrow minded bigot, but someone with real heart and patience who didn’t preach, but was simply there for Kate. He modelled someone who truly understands what being a Christian means.
What I didn’t like
- Kate not washing. It was an unpleasant image, but also a powerful statement of how ‘unclean’ she was.
- I think the author overstepped the line into the realm of the religious zealot just at the end. Powerful writing, but unnecessarily overstated.
I didn’t feel it was a preachy book, but the action did seem subservient to the message, which I read as the way to salvation is through Christ. I’m giving it a three, because of my personal ambivalence, but I highly recommend it for Christians, and if evaluated in purely technical terms only, the book is definitely worth a 4.