Teresa H. Janssen with Beth Ann Mathews — 'The Ways of Water'

Set in the early twentieth-century Southwest, where water means everything, The Ways of Water is a poignant and heart-warming testament to the meaning of family and the strength of the human spirit.

Third Place Books welcomes Teresa H. Janssen to our Lake Forest Park store! Janssen will be discussing her new novel, The Ways of Water, a finely crafted coming-of-age novel that takes the reader on an unforgettable journey with a young woman whose life is shaken by world events. Janssen will be joined in conversation by local author Beth Ann Mathews. This event is free and open to the public.

For important updates, registration is highly recommended in advance. This event will include a public signing and time for audience Q&A. Sustain our author series by purchasing a copy of the featured book!

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About The Ways of Water. . .

As Josie Belle Gore, daughter of a Louisiana train engineer and Texas seamstress, journeys with her itinerant family through the deserts of the boom-and-bust American West and revolutionary Mexico, she learns that in her life, two things are constant: water is precious, and her role in her family is to save it.

When unforeseeable events force the separation of her family, Josie begins an odyssey that takes her from New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto to Bisbee, Tucson, Los Angeles, and finally post-WWI San Francisco—experiencing betrayal, pandemic, and survivor’s guilt, as well as the compassion and generosity of friends and strangers, along the way. Once she lands in San Francisco, like a river meeting the sea, Josie has nowhere else to run—and she realizes that she must make peace with the past and good on her promise to the family she loves. Inspired by the author’s family lore, The Ways of Water is a lyrical tale of loss, hope, and forgiveness set in the rugged beauty of the turn-of-the-century Southwest that, like Josie, is growing up in fits and starts.


Praise for The Ways of Water. . .

“Janssen writes in Josie’s voice, which allows readers to get to know her as a brave, complicated woman, and witnessing her growth as a confident person is an engaging experience…Janssen creates a believable West.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Teresa H. Janssen’s beautifully written historical novel captures your heart. With its vivid description, sensuous and poetic detail, you are at one with Josie Belle on every curve and dip of her path. You feel the sting of desert sand on your face and smell the sweet lavender in a baby’s bath. But mostly, you are touched by the strength of Josie’s family and their bond of love which holds them close, if not always in space but in heart. This is a breathtaking story, exquisitely told, that you will not forget.”
—Anne Brooker James, author of The Marsh Bird

“Janssen’s love of her subject radiates in every line of this immersive coming-of-age tale. Spanning the dizzying cycles of boom and bust in the early twentieth-century Southwest, the novel is packed with historical detail. . . . Like a riverbed that dries up and refills, the Gore family must first be torn asunder before it can be made whole again. A precarious life is limned with great care and great heart—and with prose that often verges on the poetic.”
—Laurel Davis Huber, award-winning author of The Velveteen Daughter

Teresa Healy Janssen grew up just west of here in what is now Shoreline. Her grandmother Josie, the inspiration for her novel, The Ways of Water, used to visit her family there nearly every Sunday. Back then, there were fewer houses and more trees. Teresa remembers spending many hours of her childhood wandering those woods and already imagining becoming a writer. Teresa studied history at Gonzaga and earned an M.A. in Linguistics at the University of Washington. She taught language and history for more than twenty years in refugee programs, higher ed, and public high school. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in a variety of literary journals, including Zyzzyva, Chautauqua, Parabola, Los Angeles Review, Notre Dame Magazine, and Eastern Iowa Review; and in the anthologies, Art in the Time of Unbearable Crisis and Offerings: A Spiritual Poetry Anthology. She was a finalist for Bellingham Review’s Annie Dillard Prize and won the Norman Mailer/NCTE Award in nonfiction. Her historical novel, The Ways of Water, set in the turn-of-the-century Southwest, was inspired by the early life of her grandmother. She is the mother of four grown children and lives with her husband Claus in Port Townsend.

Beth Ann Mathews grew up in the Midwest. She earned her undergraduate degree at Purdue University and her master’s degree in marine biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. As a professor at the University of Alaska Southeast, she taught courses in biology, behavioral ecology, and marine mammalogy and led research on harbor seals, Steller sea lions, and harbor porpoises. She has also studied humpback, gray, and sperm whales and—briefly—sleeper sharks, and led undergraduate research programs on board tall ships in the Gulf of Maine and from field camps in Hawaii and Alaska. She has published numerous scientific papers, and Deep Waters has won two prestigious awards. Deep Waters is Mathews’s first book. She lives with her husband on Bainbridge Island, Washington where they continue to sail. 

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