"Penner’s writing style is lyrical and precise, a pleasure to read. The absence of quotation marks in dialogue and the use of both High and Low German – sometimes translated, sometimes not – help to build a sense of otherness, of a community that understands its own rules even as it chafes against them. The sense of place is very strong; I could feel the blinding sun and smell the wheat and dust of harvest."

"Penner’s writing style is lyrical and precise, a pleasure to read. The absence of quotation marks in dialogue and the use of both High and Low German – sometimes translated, sometimes not – help to build a sense of otherness, of a community that understands its own rules even as it chafes against them. The sense of place is very strong; I could feel the blinding sun and smell the wheat and dust of harvest."

"I see the book as a mosaic made up of broken dishes--you take this mess of tragedy or clumsiness or both and try to build something beautiful and proud. Each jagged little piece has its mate. You just have to find the right fracture."

"I see the book as a mosaic made up of broken dishes--you take this mess of tragedy or clumsiness or both and try to build something beautiful and proud. Each jagged little piece has its mate. You just have to find the right fracture."

"Many novels portray the experiences of Canadian Russian Mennonites, but very few, especially recently, depict Russian Mennonites in the U.S., and it is exciting that  Shaken in the Water  remedies this lack.  "

"Many novels portray the experiences of Canadian Russian Mennonites, but very few, especially recently, depict Russian Mennonites in the U.S., and it is exciting that Shaken in the Water remedies this lack. "

"[The] religious themes do not translate to holy or even upbeat ones. There are references to incest and abuse. And nearly all marriages are filled with pain. Nevertheless, one wants to muddle through and find the gem that clearly glimmers under the surface."    Photo by David Penner

"[The] religious themes do not translate to holy or even upbeat ones. There are references to incest and abuse. And nearly all marriages are filled with pain. Nevertheless, one wants to muddle through and find the gem that clearly glimmers under the surface."

Photo by David Penner

"Although we do like these characters, Penner defies you to become overly sentimental about them. They are all thoroughly flawed human beings. We can relate to their struggle, but I found myself sometimes wanting to hold them at arm’s length, shocked by the confessions that poured forth from them and troubled by their compromises. But this inherently flawed nature, while harder to read and less easy to digest, is also what makes this book feel real."

"Although we do like these characters, Penner defies you to become overly sentimental about them. They are all thoroughly flawed human beings. We can relate to their struggle, but I found myself sometimes wanting to hold them at arm’s length, shocked by the confessions that poured forth from them and troubled by their compromises. But this inherently flawed nature, while harder to read and less easy to digest, is also what makes this book feel real."