DARK WATER is one of two novels I’m reading and judging (along with Bart’s Bookshelf) as part of Nerds Heart YA.
Pearl never really took note of the migrants that worked her uncle’s avocado farm – until she meets the (mostly) mute Amiel. Amiel fascinates her, but is warning him of the coming fires worth putting her own life at risk?
First off, I have to say that I really enjoyed McNeal’s use of language. Here’s a snippet of Pearl reacting to seeing Amiel:
“For a second I couldn't move or breathe. What is it about a person that makes him harmless to others and fatal to you, like a bee sting or a trace of peanut butter?” p 48
Though the crux of the plot relies on Pearl’s growing interest in Amiel, DARK WATER is much more than a romance. It explores shifting family dynamics, the consequences of misunderstandings and the evolution of friendship – all against the backdrop of an area of Southern California plagued by deadly wildfires.
The scenes in the novel seemed very realistic – that is until the end. Pearl makes some spectacularly bad decisions and I didn’t think the story up to then supported her motivations for making them.
DARK WATER, a National Book Award finalist, is available now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.