In Living Waters, by Ed Waldrop, the main character’s family was not rich, nor were they even very happy. AJ McClellan’s childhood was scarred by traumatic incidents. But AJ lived in the Low Country of South Carolina, and when things got bad, he took his dog and his fishing rod and sat on a dock—feet dangling above the water, watching the slow but constant ebb and flow of the tides in the marsh, smelling the distinctive odor of pluff mud, watching the sunrise and set, feeling the soft warmth of the air, and listening to the songs of birds soaring over the living waters. He was content, strong, confident—a strapping young man with a promising future.
But then came 9/11, and that boy went straight from high school into the Army to help defend his country—because that’s the kind of young man he had become. He spent six years in the Army, two of them in Iraq. The senseless destruction, the horrible sights of blood and gore, the stark fear that at any moment an explosion might turn him into a pile of stinking entrails—all those experiences changed him. He came home, whole in body but damaged in both mind and spirit. He wandered aimlessly through the southern states, unable to hold a job, given to flashbacks and nightmares, ridden with guilt and uncontrollable anger. Life seemed pointless.
His PTSD was not a condition easily remedied. It took a family death to bring AJ back to the Low Country. And there, slowly, the combined efforts of an understanding pastor, a beautiful woman who refused to give up on him, two rambunctious and doting dogs, and the slow, soothing rhythms of the living waters combined to ease his torment and helped him to rediscover the young man he thought had been destroyed forever.
This is a well-written and heart-wrenching book written by an author who understands the appeal of the Low Country. Readers who know something of South Carolina will be homesick; those who have never visited will be planning a trip. But more importantly, the author provides an intimate understanding of the tormented perceptions of a veteran returning from a devastating war. He offers an important message, one that will linger with readers long after they turn the final page.
Review by Carolyn Schriber (August 2019)
Living Waters is the story of AJ McClellan, born in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. He was raised and nurtured along her creeks and waterways. Tragic events in AJ’s young life tested him deeply, but it was the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City that moved him to action. Determined to serve in his country’s defense, AJ joined the Army right out of high school, eventually doing two combat tours in Iraq. He would later leave the Army a broken man, emotionally and spiritually. He lived a vacant life in central Texas until an unexpected death in the family brought him home and began a redemptive journey for him of new life, new love, and new hope.
ISBN/ASIN: ISBN 9781641111171, ASIN B07GX1593B (Kindle)
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 302