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Meeting of the Waters: A Novel

Meeting of the Waters: A Novel

4.0 1
by Kim McLarin

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Kim McLarin's debut novel, Taming It Down, was called pitch perfect (Publishers Weekly), spirited (New York Times Book Review), and engrossing (USA Today). Now McLarin has written a second provocative and emotionally complex novel that further explores the complexities of love and race.

Porter Stockman, a determined white reporter, is


Kim McLarin's debut novel, Taming It Down, was called pitch perfect (Publishers Weekly), spirited (New York Times Book Review), and engrossing (USA Today). Now McLarin has written a second provocative and emotionally complex novel that further explores the complexities of love and race.

Porter Stockman, a determined white reporter, is covering the riots in the streets of South Central Los Angeles for the Philadelphia Record on the day that four Los Angeles police officers are acquitted of assaulting Rodney King. Lenora Page, a black woman, risks her own safety to come to his aid when the hostile mob turns on Porter, holding off his assailants and guiding him off the block. When she disappears into the chaos, Porter fears he'll never see his heroine again. But weeks later their paths intersect once more in the Record's newsroom. Lenora, a prominent reporter for the Baltimore Sun, has been extended an offer from the Philadelphia paper, a position she chooses to accept — to Porter's secret delight.

For Porter it was love at first sight, or so he thinks. During the course of the next year, he fights to win the trust and love of a suspicious and deeply conflicted Lenora. Porter and Lee are both smart, skeptical journalists, both grown up and certain they know how much of a role race plays — or does not play — in their thoughts, feelings, and lives. But as they fall in love, they are forced to reexamine their assumptions about race: Lee must decide how much of her life she should dedicate to her people and how much she can save for herself, and Porter must decide whether his liberal political views and belief inequality really run deep in his heart. Ultimately, however, it is not societal disapproval or skepticism about Porter and Lee's relationship that threatens to keep them apart, but their own insecurities, assumptions, and deeply hidden — but nevertheless powerful — fears about their union.

Crafted with elegance and power, Meeting of the Waters is both a love story and a meditation on how the intricate mating dance between men and women is further complicated by the issue of race. Probing divided allegiances, split loyalties, and the pain of confronting one's own prejudice, this poignant novel presents an impassioned and bittersweet look at interracial love in America today.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The issues of biracial marriage and racial bigotry are explored with potent insight and literary skill in McLarin's second novel (after Taming It Down). During the explosive aftermath of Rodney King's police assailants' trial in L.A., veteran reporter Porter Stockman was attacked and almost beaten to death by rioters. Now back home in Philadelphia, Porter is elated to reencounter Lenora "Lee" Page, a black woman who saved his life. Coincidentally, Lee, also a seasoned journalist, has just accepted a job on the Record, Porter's paper. Though they are both well aware of the cultural prejudices against biracial relationships, Porter passionately woos Lee while she struggles with a lifelong determination to fraternize solely with members of her own race. Eventually, she overcomes her misgivings, and joyously (but at Lee's insistence, secretly) they become lovers. When Lee's best friend pays her a surprise visit and meets Porter, however, Lee must try to justify her shift. And Porter, made uneasy by Lee's preoccupation with race, questions his own vaunted belief in equality. McLarin pulls no punches in her candid portrayal of the conflicts that often occur when conscientious adults examine assumptions each race makes about the other, and when they acknowledge, even against their will, the existence of solid barriers separating racial groups. Strong characterization lifts the narrative far above stereotype. Porter and Lee are a pair of personable and tortured lovers who reflect their unique pasts in psychologically nuanced portrayals. Their story may be a cautionary tale for those who would pit individuality against group identity. Primarily, though, this is a gripping novel about love and theobstacles it encounters even in so-called enlightened society. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Porter Stockman, a white journalist, finds his life in jeopardy when he gets caught in a race riot following the acquittal of the four Los Angeles policemen who assaulted black motorist Rodney King in 1992. In the commotion appears Lenora Page, a black reporter, who rescues him and then disappears. Later, upon returning home to the Philadelphia Record, Porter is surprised and delighted to find his savior has taken a position at his paper. He wonders why she risked her own life to save a white guy stupid enough to get caught up in a race riot. And what is she doing at the Record? A turbulent relationship begins in which Lenora suspects Porter's attraction to her is driven by ulterior motives having to do with race, and he, in turn, is constantly on the defensive, guarding his resentment against her pessimism. McLarin (Taming It Down), a former reporter, illuminates the roadblocks that society and endemic distrust place in the path of biracial couples. At the same time, she treats readers to a surprisingly complex love story laced with the kind of breezy humor we expect from writers like Bebe Moore Campbell and Terry McMillan. Recommended for all public libraries. Jennifer Baker, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Perennial
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.86(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The first time he saw, in Philadelphia, the woman who had saved his life, Porter thought he might be hallucinating. What was it called — post-traumatic stress disorder? He knew the name of the condition because he had once written a story about it. Post-traumatic stress disorder, foxhole frenzy, battle fatigue, the clean-sounding phrase for freaking out after some hideous, life-shattering event. The story he'd written was about how the disorder manifested not just in war but in the everyday world. He built the story around a North Philadelphia kid whose four brothers and two uncles had been cut down, one by one, on the same block by the same combination of gangs and drugs over the course of two years. The kid, who was nine years old when his last remaining brother poured his blood into the street, spent nights pacing the living room of his house and went to school each morning dressed in his one good suit to save his mother the trouble of bringing it to the funeral home when he was killed. A psychologist at Temple told Porter he suspected there were more cases of PTSD walking the streets of urban America than had ever raised rifle against the Vietcong. "Philadelphia is choked with people waging their Own private wars," the psychologist said.

Porter had looked for the woman in Los Angeles, had left his name and telephone number at the hospital where he was treated, and he checked at several more in case she herself had been hurt. But trying to track her that way, without a name, was ludicrous. A big, fat waste of time: "Uh, you don't have a beautiful black woman, midthirties, with bigbrown eyes, wearing some kind of greenish jacket in your hospital, do you?" He'd even gone back to South Central the day the curfew was lifted, back to the very same block where all hell had broken loose. That was difficult, and he was only able to do it because the area swarmed with news vans and reporters with cameras and cops. Still he stayed in his car and drove slowly through the streets, scanning the faces of black women, avoiding glaring into the eyes of black men. He was afraid of seeing again the men who had beaten him — not just because of what they would do but because of what he, in his humiliation and fear, might. After an hour or so he gave up.

And then, bang! Three weeks later, there she was! In Philadelphia! At least, he thought it was her.

He was outside the Record building at the time, having just returned from an interview ten blocks away through the suffocating late June heat. All Porter wanted was to get inside to air-conditioning and a cold soda from the fourth-floor machine, but he was waylaid by Karl Dullard, the transportation reporter. Karl had stationed himself on the sidewalk in a sliver of shade to smoke and moan about being passed over by the Publisher's Award committee. This was not the first time such a grievous oversight had happened. And, since Porter sat next to Karl in the newsroom, this was not his first time hearing about it.

"You read my piece on federal transportation funds!" Karl whined through a puff of smoke. His wife would not allow a cigarette within a mile radius of their home, so Karl compensated by inhaling two packs a day between the hours of ten and six. He held his cigarette like a woman, between the first two fingers instead of pinching it between thumb and index finger. Porter, who hadn't smoked since college, always had the urge to snatch Karl's cigarette and show him how it was done.

"It was masterly," Karl whined. "That's what the undersecretary called it — masterly! I deserved that award."

The award in question was one hundred bucks and one's name tacked to a bulletin board near the elevator for a month. Porter was about to tell Karl he'd gladly give him the money and scrawl his name on the wall with a felt-tipped pen if he would just shut up, then she drove past. A black woman in a white car, a profile, a fragment of memory behind glass.

"Did you read that crap that won?" Karl was saying. "Hey! Porter! You listening to me?"

"No," Porter said. His eyes followed the receding car. Should he run after it? Maybe he could catch her at a light. But that was ridiculous. It couldn't have been her. There were three thousand miles of country between this place and that corner in L.A.

Karl looked over his shoulder. "What are you staring at?"

"I thought I saw someone," Porter said. "A woman."

"Ooh!" Karl turned around now. If there was one thing he enjoyed more than moaning about how underappreciated he was it was leering at women. "Which one? Oh, I see, that blonde in the miniskirt. Yowee! What I wouldn't give to be unchained like you, Porter boy. Yikes!"

"Shut up, Karl."

He went inside and had his soda and wrote the incident off as his imagination working overtime. It wasn't her, just someone who looked like her. That's what he told himself. But the next morning it happened again.

It was early this time. The sidewalks around the Record building still glistened from the daily dawn washing and the heat had yet to rise. Porter had stopped by the office to pick up his tape recorder; he was headed to Bucks County for the day to report a story about the tenth anniversary of the unsolved murder of a Bryn Mawr student-turned-working girl. Just as he stepped from the building a white car rolled past, reached the corner, turned from sight. Without thinking, he ran after it, but he tripped over the curb and fell and scraped his hand...

Meeting of the Waters. Copyright © by Kim McLarin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meeting of the Waters 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in a day. I could not put it down. Read it. You wont be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this to be a great book. The story line kept building and the characters were interesting. Definitely would recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was just another interracial love story, but it was much more. Bigotry is immediately thrown into our face in the first few pages with the beating of Rodney King. Than we see the anger turned to hate, when the mob turns against a Man who is targeted because of the color of his skin. It being white. Turnabout huh? But once we get pass all of this and go into the heart of this story, we get to relax and begin to enjoy the relationship of Peter and Lee. How they must deal with each others doubts and fears about race. And how they deal with the feelings of their friends, family, and society in general. And if there is a chance that a meeting of their hearts will occur. I found this a good read. I think you will too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this story of interracial love quite good. The author takes us into the lives of Porter, a white hotshot journalist who finds himself caught up in the race riots with the beating of Rodney King; and Lee, a smart sassy black journalist who risks her life to save this man. The way the author chooses to bring them together I thought was original. And she gave them thought provoking questions and doubts to consider if they were going to choose to get involved in a difficult relationship due to the times we live in. I was annoyed with her racist sister, and loved the twist of his accepting parents. I had hoped that there would be a happy ending and I wasn't disappointed. I found it all and all to be a good read. I would definitely recommend it, as a source of warmth to get you thru the cold winter months.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Meeting of the Waters is not just about race but it is truly a love story. Many of us have experienced falling in love and having to deal with not only our baggage but our partner's. The trials and tribulations of every relationship is tough, heavy and can be heart breaking. What mountain has your relationship climbed up and over?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so in love with this book. I read it in two days, and I didn't ever want it to end. These two characters really made me think a lot about race from both sides of the fence. The author's writing style is beautiful and thought provoking! These characters really stick with you. I am still thinking about them, as if they were real.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thought Provoking...From beginning to end, author McLarin has captured the essence of inter-racial relationships and how they effect each person. MUST BUY!