My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Having read two of Chris Bohjalian's books, including this one, I'd say he's a character man. Both Water Witches and Before You Know Kindness featured a solid cast of players on both sides of an issue. In Before You Know Kindness, the issues were hunting and animal rights. In Water Witches, we hear about economic expansion and natural resource protection.
Scottie Winston, lawyer, father, and husband, is representing Powder Peak, the local ski resort in his small Vermont town, in a lawsuit brought against them by Reedy McClure, state senator and soon-to-be Scottie's brother-in-law, who believes that the ski resort's plans to expand and tap a river for snow-making will do more harm than good, especially taking into account the ongoing drought. Both Scottie's wife, Laura, and Reedy's fiance (Laura's sister), Patience, are dowsers--water witches--and Scottie and Laura's daughter, Miranda, shows the same talent for finding underground water as her mom and aunt. These three, while supportive of Scottie and his work, morally side with Reedy and the protection of their natural resources.
Knowing just these things, I basically figured out the remainder of the story, but I still wanted to read the whole way through. It's a testament to Bohjalian's writing, the worlds and characters he creates, that even though I knew what would probably happen in the end, I was committed enough to finish the book. Bohjalian throws in a few curve balls along the way, but stays true to his characters. This was a good book to read in the dead of winter--the descriptions of unbearable heat warmed me up as I bundled up to ride the bus.
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THANK YOU: Britney and Diego for making me breakfast, Becca for making two cakes for our January birthdays.