Book Review: Out of The Water

20 Oct

When I saw that Christy Award-winning author Ann Marie Stewart had a new novel out, I knew I had to read it. Her debut, Stars in The Grass, was excellent. Out of The Water is another outstanding book. The multi-generational story explores the complex subject matter of adoption. With carefully drawn characters, rich historical context, and a complex narrative, this is one book not to be missed. Recommended.

Irish immigrant Siobhan Kildea’s impetuous flight from a Boston lover in 1919 leads her to a new family in an unfamiliar Montana prison town. After a horrific tragedy impacts her children, her land, and her livelihood, Siobhan makes a heart wrenching decision – with consequences that ripple for decades to come.

Mysteriously linked to Siobhan is Genevieve Marchard, a battlefront nurse in France who returns stateside to find the absence of a certain soldier is her greatest loss; Anna Hanson, a music teacher who tucks herself away in a small Washington town, assuming her secrets are safe; and Erin Ellis, who thinks she and her husband won the lottery when they adopted their daughter, Claire. 

These interconnected stories, spanning three continents and five generations, begin to unravel in 1981 when Claire Ellis sets out to find her biological mother.

With puzzling suspense, unforgettable characters and uncanny insight, Out of the Water is an intoxicating novel of motherhood, secrets, and the profound ramifications our decisions have. Readers will be left wondering: ultimately, is it always better to know the truth?

Ann Marie Stewart grew up in Seattle, Washington and is a die-hard UW Husky (and Wolverine) after earning a Masters in Film/Television from University of Michigan. She originated AMG’s Preparing My Heart series, and writes the column “Ann’s Lovin’ Ewe” for The Country Register. With two recent UVA grads, she’s now a huge HOO basketball fan. When not writing, Ann teaches voice or takes care of the many sheep of Skyemoor Farm.

My Impressions:

Out of The Water features a diverse cast of characters from across the decades. While it took me a bit to get my bearings with the various threads and timeframes, this novel was worth the extra concentration. Stewart tells the tale of several women who struggled with hard choices. Siobhan is a young Irish immigrant who longs for family, Genevieve seems to have everything in her life and marriage, yet desperately wants a child, Erin and Claire, mother and daughter, face the uncertainties of Claire’s search for her birth mother, and Anna struggles with guilt and shame as she attempts to build a life. Added to the women’s stories are the backdrops of WWI, the immigrant experience of early 20th century America, the Great Depression, and 1950/60’s America. The historic details are naturally added to each story thread providing important context to the choices that are made. All the women share lost hopes and dreams and the feelings of rejection and abandonment. What is unique about Out of The Water, aside from the complex narrative and the varying timelines, is the way Stewart addresses all sides of adoption — those who choose to give up their child, those who give those children a home, and the adoptees themselves. I became engrossed in each woman’s story — they all became very real to me. And if you are book nerd like me, you will love how Siobhan stays in contact with a friend from the past. The book’s ending was beautiful — yes, I shed a few tears!

Filled with heartbreak, sacrifice, hope, and redemption, Out of The Water is a novel you will not want to miss. There is so much to contemplate, making this book a great choice for book clubs. I guarantee after reading it you will want to talk about it!


Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to the publisher for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

2 Responses to “Book Review: Out of The Water”

  1. Cindy Davis October 20, 2021 at 9:31 am #

    I had not heard of this author, thanks for sharing!

    • rbclibrary October 20, 2021 at 10:30 am #


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