"Three Rivers Rising"
Pub. Date: April 13, 2010
Synopsis: Sixteen-Year-Old Celestia spends every summer with her family at the elite resort at Lake Conemaugh, a shimmering Allegheny Mountain reservoir held in place by an earthen dam. Tired of the society crowd, Celestia prefers to swim and fish with Peter, the hotel’s hired boy. It’s a friendship she must keep secret, and when companionship turns to romance, it’s a love that could get Celestia disowned. These affairs of the heart become all the more wrenching on a single, tragic day in May, 1889. After days of heavy rain, the dam fails, unleashing 20 million tons of water onto Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the valley below. The town where Peter lives with his father. The town where Celestia has just arrived to join him. This searing novel in poems explores a cross-class romance—and a tragic event in U. S. history.
"Three Rivers Rising" packs a lot of punch in a small package. The book was written in verse allowing Jame Richards to say a lot using few words. I loved how the book followed multiple characters with completely different backgrounds. It made the book more than just a story of forbidden love; the flood affected people in many different ways and "Three Rivers Rising" did a wonderful job of showing this. There wasn't a ton of character development, but just enough to care about the characters while keeping the book moving at a quick pace. I ended up reading this book in only a few days because it was such a fast read.
The conflicts in Celestia’s family were another part of the plot I really enjoyed. Their story was full of heartbreak, but it was interesting to see their dynamics before and after the flood. They weren't the only family shown in the book, but they were the most developed. Maura, a young mother struggling to raise four young children, is another character I continue to think about after reading this book. Even though her story was only a small piece of a greater plot, she seemed to lose the most out of all the characters. I don't know if everyone will agree with me on this point, but Richards's ending for Maura will stick with me for a long time. It wasn't the ending I expected, but I like that it shined light on something that I didn't expect from the book. Sorry about the super vagueness... but I HATE spoiling anything for readers. You'll just have to read the book for yourself to figure out what I am talking about.
I recommend "Three Rivers Rising" to readers who enjoyed "Out of the Dust" by Karen Hesse and historical fiction. Readers who many not like historical fiction will also be wrapped up in the fast pace of this book, as well as the romance between Celestia and Peter. This is one of the books that has made me so glad I am participating in the 2010 Debut Author Challenge. I never would have picked up this book if it weren't for the challenge and I would have missed out on a great book.
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