Happy Last Day of February and Last Day of YA Historical Fiction...well, not Last Day as in I will never feature YA Historical Fiction ever again because you know I love it! Plus, I still need to do a full review for Madame Tussaud and announce my winner later this week!
But my last featured YA Historical Fiction for this month will be Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood by Jame Richards.
First of all, I love verse novels and here we have a spectacular addition to the genre and it's the first I've read and known to tackle historical fiction through poetic forms! Yea! At times, the poetry reads like beautiful prose, so it is amazingly accessible to all readers if if you think you don't like free verse.
Second, romance...what else could I ask for?
Third, alternating POV! Love, love, love this. Most of the novel alternates between Celestia and Peter, but it also includes poetic pieces by Celestia's father and other women of local communities. All of these voices collide on the fateful day of reckoning/flooding in the spring of 1889.
Fourth, my novel is a verse novel and incorporates some history (even though it's more like Aztec fantasy/revisionist history), so Three Rivers is pretty close to my heart.
Fifth, Three Rivers gives an authentic and realist account of class and gender differences in the last decade of the 19th century.
Sixth...too many other great things to say about it and my list would never end.
Seventh...Free Verse Rocks! Just had to let that out.
The Not So Good...the book cover...I think something more visual...like rivers as arms intersecting (--just my amateur ideas--please don't take seriously!). I don't have any awesome ideas, but the cover doesn't say you must read me now or forever be unfullfilled.
Summary Posted on Goodreads
Sixteen-Year-Old Celstia 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.
Excerpt...A chapter/poem from Celestia's point of view:
glossy dark eyelashes
and smooth pink cheeks.
My parents' favorite,
and, at nineteen, my senior by three years.
She starts each day in a steamer chair
with plaid blankets and a book.
She plays the part of the lovesick sweetheart--
her beau, Charles, learns the family business
back home in Pittsburgh--
but her natural buoyancy is not long repressed.
Fun always knows where to find her.
Just now, an errant croquet ball rolls under her chair.
She laughs and runs to the game,
the dappled sunlight,
and the jovial golden boys.
meets her halfway,
extending his arm.
Frederick with his shock of blond hair,
and skin glowing with health . . .
Poor old Charles
with his consumptive cough
better arrive soon
if he wants to find his intended still betrothed.
He cannot compete with the gaiety
and romance of our sparkling little lake in the mountains.
Now about me--
if I am not the fun-loving beauty,
then I must be the serious one,
the one who would toss the croquet ball back,
wave and sigh,
but be infinitely more fascinated
with my book
than with the superficial cheer
of the society crowd.
The one who gets the joke
but does not tolerate it.
The one who baits the hook
and guts the fish
the hired boy.
Just absolutely Lovely!