Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book Recommendation: THREE RIVERS RISING by Jame Richards

Amy’s recommendation for THREE RIVERS RISING had me at the title. After our little adventure with one river rising, I knew I had to read this book.

Jame Richards’s debut is a YA historical novel-in-verse. (How’s that for an all-encompassing genre description?) THREE RIVERS RISING places two fictional teenagers, Celestia and Peter, in the events surrounding the disastrous Johnstown Flood of 1889. Celestia, the daughter of a wealthy Pittsburgh banker, meets Peter, one of the hired hands, when she spends a summer at the clubhouse on Lake Conemaugh, a glorified reservoir created by the rich, for the rich. But water has a way of going where it wants to, and when the South Fork Dam gives way, the poor townsfolk downstream end up reaping the deluge.

Interestingly, I could have done without the verse in this novel-in-verse. I didn’t see why the story had to be told that way; in fact, I found the verse a little stifling insofar as the characterization and world building went. I wanted to know the characters a little better and really feel immersed--pardon the pun--in the time period a little more. I’ve read several other novels-in-verse (all on Amy’s recommendation, by the way), including Lisa Schroeder’s I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME and FAR FROM YOU, both of which made better use of the genre, in my humble opinion. But what THREE RIVERS RISING absolutely nailed was that sense of abject horror as a wave of water descends.

Having found myself in a similar, albeit less life-threatening, situation, I found Ms. Richards’s description and character reactions spot-on. That was the moment that made this book for me. As the story threads converged before that forty-foot wall of water, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

In sum, I could have done without the verse, but on the whole, I thought THREE RIVERS RISING was an engaging, true-to-life drama with a dash of forbidden romance on the side. Definitely worth a read.


Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the review, Krista. It sounds interesting, and now I'm curious about the verse part. I'll have to pick it up.

LeishaMaw said...

Great review. I am also curious about the verse element. I've read other novels in verse and found them powerful in a way prose could not have been. I'm anxious to read this one and see how it compares. :)

Krista V. said...

Myrna and LeishaMaw, I'm glad I piqued your curiosity. You'll have to let me know what you think.

Carol Riggs said...

This definitely sounds compelling, but I'm kinda wary about the novel-in-verse thing. Seems a little gimmiky to me. Kind of like Lauren Myracle's ttyl novel, where it's all in IM. I had a really hard time getting into the characters, or even remembering who they were, because they seemed like flat names on a page, like a play script.

Krista V. said...

Carol, like I said, I didn't see why this particular story had to be told in verse, but the story still resonated with me. It would be interesting to see how this book would have turned out had Ms. Richards written it in a more traditional format.

If you do decide to read it, I'd be interested to hear what you think. Have you read any other novels-in-verse? (Other than the novel-in-text you mentioned, of course:) )

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Krista, I'm so glad you read the book! I hadn't thought about the verse aspect in that way, so I'm glad you brought it up.


Krista V. said...

Amy, Amy, Amy! How are you and the little one doing? I hope everything is well. Thanks for dropping by!