Emmett Till’s mother shows her pain at the Chicago showing of his open casket.
“Gathering of Waters” opens in the early 20th century in Oklahoma, with a girl named Doll possessed by the spirit of a dead woman. But after an unsuccessful exorcism and a decision by Doll’s mother to put her up for adoption, the story shifts to Money, Miss., where Doll grows up under the influence of the bitter, vengeful spirit that inhabits her. She steals, she has sex with near strangers and she eventually gives birth to a daughter who comes to despise her. After the flood of 1927, the novel’s attentions jump to that daughter, Hemmingway, just until her own daughter, Tass, falls in love with Emmett Till during the summer he will die. Then the story follows Tass, who marries and moves to Detroit with Emmett’s spirit at her heels.
GATHERING OF WATERS
By Bernice L. McFadden
252 pp. Akashic Books. $24.95.