Fire Is Your Water

Fire Is Your Water
Ohio University Press
ISBN 978-0-804-01184-6


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Book cover description …


Ada Franklin is a young powwow doctor in the Pennsylvania Dutch, religious faith tradition. By saying sacred chants, she can remove warts, stanch bleeding, and “take out fire” to heal burns. That all changes on a June day in 1953 when the Franklin barn ignites into flame. Ada and her mother enter the burning building to rescue their animals. The scorching heat, the roar of the blaze, the shrill bellows of so many cows trapped inside—all of it changes Ada. For the first time, she fears death and—for the first time—she doubts God. After the fire, she no longer can heal. Then Ada meets Will Burk and his pet raven, Cicero. And then there is another fire.

Fire Is Your Water is acclaimed memoirist Jim Minick’s first novel. Built on magical realism and social observation in equal measure, it never gives way to sentimentality and provides an insider’s glimpse into the culture of Appalachia. A jealous raven, a Greek chorus of one, punctuates the story with its judgments on the characters and their actions, until a tragic accident brings Ada and Will together in a deeper connection.

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What Others Say

The award-winning essayist/memoirist Minick (Blueberry Years) has crafted an outstanding first novel full of appealing characters and an inventive plot based on true events. This belongs at the top of every spring reading list.”

Library Journal starred review

Minick’s coming-of-age novel is poignant throughout. The supporting players are as caringly drawn as the protagonists.… A compassionate exploration of faith and doubt.”

Kirkus Reviews

Fire Is Your Water is a most remarkable story of devotion, trust, healing, and misfortune—and of a skeptical raven misnamed Cicero. The personalities portrayed are of their time and place and yet before and beyond them. Minick vividly demonstrates how daily experience transcends itself. And it’s a genuine love story, the best kind of story there is.”

— Fred Chappell

Minick uses an extraordinary mix of realism and enchantment to tell a love story wrapped in horror, fire, and faith. An utterly original novel.”

— Lee Smith

A masterful novel filled with magic that runs alongside and soars above the daily lives of earnest, well-meaning people. I loved being immersed in this novel, and it has nestled happily in my imagination since I closed the covers. Absolutely gorgeous work.”

— Robin Black, author of Life Drawing

Fire Is Your Water tests our assumptions about what the novel is supposed to be and how it achieves the effects that it does. The themes are big and brash, exploring the spaces between religion and faith, love and friendship, landscape and place, self and other. Minick teaches us that different fires burn even when they may remain unseen.”

— Charles Dodd White, author of A Shelter of Others

This magical yet real tale of an exceptional love triangle negotiates in vivid and original ways the themes Minick contemplates in all his work: the intersection of the spiritual and the corporal, the jagged edges of fear and love, and the arduous work of ethics and responsibility. An excellent first novel, Fire is Your Water captures the beauty of transcending one’s deepest sorrow.”

— Darnell Arnoult, author of Sufficient Grace


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