Just after the end of The Civil War, ex slaves and brothers Landry and Prentiss are trying to survive in the woods near the Walker’s home. George and Isabelle Walker( who are white) hire them to help start a crop of peanuts, much to the dismay of most of the white residents living in Old Ox, Georgia. When Landry, who cannot or does not speak, observes an illegal act between two white men, the consequences for the brothers and the Walkers are violent and harrowing.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Sweetness of Water for several reasons. Harris is an excellent writer; many of his descriptions are vivid and sensual. George, Isabelle and Prentiss are well-drawn characters as are some of the lesser characters. The plot is well-paced and unpredictable. Also, it was nice to read a book written by a Black man where all the Southerners were not portrayed as evil racists.