Scenes from The Girl in the Water

The Girl in the Water

A novel by Joseph Howse, published by Nummist Media (2022)

The Girl in the Water is the story of a multiethnic group of young friends, coming of age in Estonia and Ukraine in the last days of the Soviet Union. Their lives are shaped by an Afghan war, the Chernobyl disaster, and the collapse and legacy of a suffocating society.

The novel has garnered praise as both a lifelike family drama and a literary statement in the tradition of the Russian classics.

IndieReader Approved


“Joseph Howse evokes the literary styles of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky … Howse’s novel feels Russian, from its ornate structure to its social commentary to its wry humor. The author has composed a book like Tchaikovsky would a symphony; tight, disciplined, yet bubbling with unspoken passion and near-magical allegory.” —Rob Errera, IndieReader

IndieReader has also featured the novel in its “Best Reviewed Books of the Month” (December 2022) and in an interview with Joseph Howse.

The Girl in the Water, beside quote from Independent Book Review

“A resilient coming-of-age story … The author includes emotional, compelling scenes with every character, as each one has been dealt a vastly different hand of cards. … It feels very down-to-Earth and includes necessary comical moments throughout. I did not know much about the events or places in this book before, but after finishing it and doing a little extra curiosity research, I’m thankful to have learned something new in such an engaging way.” Audrey Davis, Independent Book Review

LoveReading: Indie Books We Love

“A coming of age narrative held against the backdrop of the last days of the Soviet Union … This setting and context of the book feels authentic and it is clear that a lot of research has been carried out in order to add dimension to the story. The sense of change in the setting reflects the coming-of-age themes in the characters’ narratives. … I think that this book would appeal to those interested in character driven family dramas and relationship stories, and may appeal to those interested in modern Eastern European history.” —LoveReading Ambassador

Montmorency cherry blossoms, with ants

“Somehow it feels like the last summer on Earth. … There are wrynecks and Geiger counters, speaking to the mute and masked masses of mankind.” —Joseph Howse, The Girl in the Water

Order It

The Girl in the Water is available worldwide in paperback and ebook editions. To find it, preview it, and order it, please browse the following options.

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Discuss It

Any good story can be read in multiple ways, in part because readers bring their own experiences and book-learning from beyond the pages in hand. Thus, it is the author’s hope that no two conversations about this novel will be the same. Even so, reading groups may wish to download our book club guide to find some possible starting points for their discussions.

Stay Tuned

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