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"The Waters" by Bonnie Jo Campbell Featured as Jenna Bush Hager's January 2024 Book Club Pick!

The Waters-Bonnie Jo Campbell


“I love The Waters by the great Bonnie Jo Campbell so much. This book is so beautiful,” Jenna Bush Hager said.

In addition to being the first “Read with Jenna” pick of 2024, The Waters represents another first for the club, as Jenna pointed out: “It’s set in the magical mystical lands of rural Michigan. We’ve never chosen a book set there.”

“It is about a matriarch and healer and what happens when one of her three daughters brings home a baby. You will fall in love with the girl she grows up to be. She’s one of the most funny, interesting characters of all time. It’s about mothers and daughters. A book for anyone who loves nature, land and where we find beauty and magic. I promise you’ll pick up this book and fall in love,” she said.

The Waters unfolds on an island in the Great Massasauga Swamp, where Hermine “Herself” Zook has reigned as an esteemed and feared herbalist to the local town. Men aren’t allowed on the island, and her three estranged daughters rarely come to visit. But Herself and her 11-year-old granddaughter, Donkey, live in harmony with the natural world — until it all comes crashing down.

“If you love a book about the magic of the natural world, you will love this book. If you love a book about multiple love stories, all different types of loves, you need to get this,” she said.

About the Author: Bonnie Jo Campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell is an American Writer living with her husband and donkeys in rural Michigan.

Bonnie Jo Campbell is the author of the National Bestselling novel Once Upon a River (Norton, 2011), a river odyssey with an unforgettable sixteen-year-old heroine, which the New York Times Book Review calls “an excellent American parable about the consequences of our favorite ideal, freedom.” The book was optioned and developed into an award winning feature film directed by Haroula Rose, which debuted in 2020.

Her first novel, Q Road, delves into the lives of a rural community where development pressures are bringing unwelcome change in the character of the land. Campbell’s critically-acclaimed short fiction collection American Salvage (Wayne State University Press, 2009) was finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award. The collection consists of fourteen lush and rowdy stories of folks who are struggling to make sense of the twenty-first century. She is also the author of Women and Other Animals, which won the AWP prize for short fiction; and  the collection Mothers, Tell Your Daughters. Her story “The Smallest Man in the World” was awarded a Pushcart Prize and her story “The Inventor, 1972” was awarded the 2009 Eudora Welty Prize from Southern Review. She is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the Mark Twain Award from the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. Her most recent novel, The Waters, was released in January 2024.


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