Michigan author Bonnie Jo Campbell's novel is a “Today” book club pick.

The 2024 No. 1 selection for the Today Show's Read with Jenna book club is a novel by a Michigan author who lives in Kalamazoo County.

Bonnie Jo Campbell's “The Waters” was announced Thursday as a January pick for the nearly 4-year-old club launched by Jenna Bush Hager, co-host of NBC's “Today with Hoda & Jenna” hour.

“This is an amazing novel about extraordinary women,” Bush Hager told co-host Hoda Kotb on Thursday morning. “It's absolutely beautiful. It's about what we inherit.”

“The Waters,” which hits bookstores Tuesday, revolves around a formidable maternal figure, Hermine (herself) Zuck, a healer and herbalist in rural Michigan, who makes her home on an island in the fictional Great Massasauga Swamp.

The book's publisher, W. W. Norton, described her as “as stubborn as her temper”, and the mother of three estranged daughters. She lives with her 11-year-old granddaughter, Dorothy (Donkey) Zuck, in a wild landscape that is as much a character as the women in the novel.

Read with Jenna has a proven track record of helping books reach national bestseller lists. This is the first title set in rural Michigan chosen by Bush Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush.

With its detailed depiction of nature and its mysterious elements, Water paints a vivid picture of life in a rural area. The Los Angeles Times said in its review that “The Waters” is a thought-provoking, easy-to-read exploration of strangeness and of all different kinds of love — familial love, romantic love, knowledgeable love, animal love, and individual love. The environment, even if it is a difficult place to live.”

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A graduate of the University of Chicago, Campbell has long received critical acclaim as a writer. Her 2009 short fiction collection American Salvage, published by Wayne State University Press, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also a 2009 Eudora Welty Award winner and was a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow.

Her novel, “Once Upon a River,” which was published in 2011, was a best-seller.

Campbell's three donkeys got a shout-out from Bush Hager on Thursday. While Bush Hager praised “The Waters” and urged viewers to pre-order the book, he said, “This writer sent me a video with her donkeys. I love her so much.”

Contact Detroit Free Press pop culture critic Julie Hinds at [email protected].

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