By Ted Dekker
18 March 2014
I liked Water Walker MUCH better than its predecessor, Eyes Wide Open. It follows one of the minor characters from the previous novel, Alice Ringwald, and gives her her own story. Like Eyes Wide Open, the novel Water Walker is split into four parts, each of which was serialized for e-readers before being published as a complete novel in paperback.
The story begins, the main character says, “the night I discovered that I wasn’t me.” At thirteen years old, Alice has no memory of anything before six months ago, and when she’s taken into the care of two loving foster parents, she begins to settle into a peaceful life. Unfortunately, that all changes one evening when she’s kidnapped by her birth mother’s husband, Wyatt, and taken to live on a compound in the Louisiana bayou. Her birth mother Kathryn and younger half-brother Bobby meet her there, all of them under the tutelage of Zeke, a self-styled prophet of God on Earth.
The first nine chapters surround Alice’s abduction and the FBI’s fruitless search for her after she seems to fall off the map. Alice is immediately renamed “Eden” upon arriving in Louisiana, and chapter 10 and thereafter skips forward five years and follow’s the events surrounding her eighteenth birthday. Dekker writes another page-turner, but at least in this case I kept reading because I was interested in the story instead of because I was hoping for my expectations to be defied. (In Eyes Wide Open, my expectations were definitely NOT defied, unfortunately.)
This novel didn’t really surprise me, either: the “bad guy” was bad all the way through, the main character’s naiveté was never cured, and the Outlaw character still acted as deus ex machina, and I’ve never seen THAT work out well in contemporary literature. This novel was no exception in that respect.
The primary theme is forgiveness, and though the author had ample time to flesh out the characters and create a spellbinding, believable (in the story’s context) ending that included forgiveness, he didn’t. Alice/Eden just simply has an epiphany about “letting go of the boat in the storm” and “walking on water” and then just forgives her mother for all the abuse she inflicted upon her daughter for more than five years. That’s a romantic notion but hardly plausible given the way the novel is set up. Jesus is meant to be Alice/Eden’s role model—modeled to her in her dreams by the Outlaw—but even he got angry and yelled at people. Turning the other cheek is one thing; getting trampled is completely another.
Turning the other cheek and forgiving one’s aggressors is something that Jesus teaches, but it’s also one of the Biblical reasons that white plantation owners in the antebellum South gave for keeping black slaves. Just because Alice/Eden forgave her mother and Zeke (the evil bad guy who’s mostly off in the distance pulling people’s strings) at the end of the novel, there was a large chance that that would’ve changed nothing about her situation. Luckily for her, it worked out, but not everyone is granted with a happy ending. Where does a person, water walker or not, drawn the line? Would you “turn the other cheek” even unto death? Even unto the death of the person you care most about in the world?
DISCLAIMER: I received Water Walker free from Worthy Publishing for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.