Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: Dark Water

Dark Water
Laura McNeal
2010; Knopf; ISBN 978-0-375-84973-2 (hardcover)

Summary: Life in the southern California town of Fallbrook should be like living in a paradise.  But for Pearl, it's not so great.  Her parents have recently divorced, and Pearl and her mother live in the ramshackle guest house on her uncle's avocado ranch.  She's growing distant from her best friend, while her friend and cousin Robby is distancing himself from her.  Then she meets Amiel, a migrant worker who doesn't talk but juggles and mimes to express himself.  He captures Pearl's attention, making her chase him even as he tries to keep her at arms' length.  When a wildfire sweeps through Fallbrook, Pearl will choose Amiel over safety--with devastating consequences. 

This National Book Award finalist showcases the development of one young woman.  Pearl is confused and uncertain due to the changes in her life.  Falling for Amiel leads Pearl to bad decisions, as she does anything to attract his attention.  Laura McNeal presents in a sympathetic manner a young woman grappling with her life and making choices that others wouldn't make.  Other characters like Pearl's mother, her uncle, and Amiel are equally well-drawn in this thoughtful novel.  With its sense of foreboding, Dark Water keeps the reader turning the pages to find out what happens.

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