Fifteen-year-old Pearl DeWitt and her mother live in Fallbrook, California, where it’s sunny 340 days of the year, and where her uncle owns a grove of 900 avocado trees. Uncle Hoyt hires migrant workers regularly, but Pearl doesn’t pay much attention to them . . . until Amiel. From the moment she sees him, Pearl is drawn to this boy who keeps to himself, fears being caught by la migra, and is mysteriously unable to talk. And after coming across Amiel’s makeshift hut near Agua Prieta Creek, Pearl falls into a precarious friendship—and a forbidden romance.My thoughts...Dark Water is a book based on actual events. The fires in California are a reality many people deal with regularly. The characters, while fictional, felt very real as did their fear. This story left me with goosebumps.
Then the wildfires strike. Fallbrook—the town of marigolds and palms, blood oranges and sweet limes—is threatened by the Agua Prieta fire, and a mandatory evacuation order is issued. But Pearl knows that Amiel is in the direct path of the fire, with no one to warn him, no way to get out. Slipping away from safety and her family, Pearl moves toward the dark creek, where the smoke has become air, the air smoke.
Laura McNeal has crafted a beautiful and haunting novel full of peril, desperation, and love. (summary from the author's website)
The beginning of Dark Water started off slow. There was quite a bit of character development and few side stories that distracted me. The love story between Pearl and Amiel took a while to develop and fell a bit short. I would begin to feel a strong pull between the two of them, then it cooled. The characters are not in an ideal situation to develop a relationship. This is a story with forbidden love.
While Dark Water does have some of the elements of a love story, the real action is found in the fire. You know it's coming, you know it's going to be devastating, and you fear it. This book started off slow, then suddenly becomes extremely intense. It was sad, frightening, and exciting all at the same time. The adrenaline of the main characters becomes contagious as you pray for their safety. Then the ending...well, not all stories have a happy ending, especially when you are dealing with real life.
Dark Water is a great book for those who are looking for a realistic YA story. I am glad I stuck with it and finished the book. It gave me a better understanding of fear that victims of these fires experience and it will stick with me for a long time.
For more information, including purchase links, visit the website of Tom & Laura McNeal.