Review: Hendley’s unanswered questions benefit new book

Anne Buie

Editor’s Note: The following reflects the opinions of the author.

Bartender, biker, rebel, humanitarian, CNN Hero, husband and father are only a few words that describe Wine to Water Founder Boone local Doc Hendley.

But he can add author to his list of titles, since he released Wine to Water: A Bartender’s Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World.

The book tells Hendley’s story of how he thought of and started the now internationally known nonprofit Wine to Water as well as its early years hitting the ground running in Darfur and the establishment of its office right here in Boone, all while trying to give deserving people access to clean water.

Hendley talks about the humble beginnings of Wine to Water, from the time that it was only a phrase in his head, derived from Jesus’ first miracle – turning water to wine.

“It was always my favorite miracle because to me it proved that Jesus was a way cooler guy than what I had always thought growing up,” Hendly said.

Hendley then held fundraisers in Raleigh, spent a year working on the ground in Darfur and then returned to Boone to start the organization.

One of the most heartwarming moments of a story about southern born and bred and new time humanitarian is when he reflects on children in Darfur screaming “Moya! Moya!” which is the Sudanese Arabic term for water as they begin to run and play, something they never had time to do while fetching less than sanitary water miles away from home.

Small moments like these are what make this book so personal and heartwarming. Never would a Westerner think that water is a luxury that interferes with something we don’t think of as luxurious as play time. But Hendley compares and contrasts this new world to his life growing up in a way that the reader fully understands and can even feel like they can place themselves in at time.

The story of Wine to Water in the book ends rather abruptly in 2010 when Hendley is giving aid to earthquake-stricken Haiti and ends with him loading up supplies to bring clean water to people affected by the horrendous earthquake.

But that’s the beauty of the story. There is no conclusive ending because the organization and Hendley’s mission is not done. A final ending would have felt good as you slowly close the book and think, “Wow, what a heartwarming story.”

Instead you’re left knowing that there is a water crisis out there and there is not a conclusion that Hendley, the man who really brought this international disaster to a bigger platform in the United States, sees right now.

And one of the best parts to a college student already burdened by the task of reading chapters upon chapters for their classes is that this 280-page book is not a tough read. It flows as fluently as a conversation that you might have, let’s say, with a bartender – chill, down to earth and to the point, but not skipping any important details.

Rating: Three and a half out of four stars

Story: MICHAEL BRAGG, A&E Editor