Properties of Thirst

S. & S. Aug. 2022. 544p. ISBN 9781416571261. $28. F
Vibrant characters, multiple storylines, and a visceral sense of time and place coalesce in this engrossing novel from Pulitzer finalist Wiggins (Evidence of Things Unseen). In the early 20th century, Rockwell Rhodes, heir to his father’s railroad fortune, travels west to settle in the thriving agricultural community of California’s Owens Valley. He builds a home for his wife, Lou, and their twins, Sunny and Stryker, and embraces the Indigenous and Mexican of the region’s other inhabitants. But the Rhodeses’ idyll is short-lived as Rocky battles the Los Angeles Water Authority, which has been desiccating the farmland by diverting the valley’s water; Lou falls ill; and Rocky’s sister Cas abandons her musical career to care for her niece and nephew. News of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor arrives the same day as Stryker’s letter from Honolulu announcing a surprise marriage and the birth of twin sons. Tensions ratchet up further when Mr. Schiff, a lawyer from the U.S. Interior Department who is ambivalent about his remit in light of his Jewish roots, seeks help from the Rhodes family to enact Roosevelt’s controversial order establishing the Manzanar concentration camp that would imprison thousands of Japanese Americans.
VERDICT In lush language, Wiggins evokes a keen sense of history and its life altering effects, a righteous frustration with government deception, and faith in the power of love to quench one’s deepest thirsts.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing