cover image All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running

All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running

Elias Rodriques. Norton, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-54079-6

Rodriques’s fresh and rhapsodic debut follows a group of Florida high school friends who reunite to rediscover the ties that still bind them. Though their lives have diverged since graduation—“so much of the future became the past so quickly”—the friends, some Black, some white, meet again after seven years when Daniel, a Jamaican American teacher living with his boyfriend in Brooklyn, returns to his hometown of Jacksonville. He’s come to mourn his first love, a self-proclaimed redneck girl named Aubrey, who was killed in a truck crash with her drunk ex-boyfriend Brandon. Daniel reconnects with his teammates on the track team, Twig, Des, and Des’s girlfriend, Egypt; and Aubrey’s best friend, Jess. They drink and reminisce, but things get out of hand when Des and Daniel drive out to Brandon’s place to confront him. The lilting cadence of the friends’ dialogue as they contemplate what lies ahead adds particular resonance, as do Daniel’s reflections (“They guarded me because they weren’t sure they were going to get out of Palm Coast themselves. But if I escaped, we all did”). This melancholy story is a startling and necessary addition to the canon of works that parse what it means to grow up in the American South. (June)