Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Jamestown Flood by Jame Richards is exactly the type of book I love: young adult historical fiction with an interesting storyline and characters about some event that I had little prior knowledge of.
I am sad to say that before I read Three Rivers Rising I didn't know anything at all about the Jamestown Flood. In fact, the map inside of the book helped immensely in providing a little perspective. For those of you that are like me and need some background information, the Jamestown Flood occurred in Pennsylvania in the late 1800s.
Richards book is written in verse, and moves quickly. (I am always surprised by how much I enjoy novels written this way, considering how little I seek out this type of book). This writing style works perfectly to tell this story, alternating between characters narrating their own perspective of the events that took place.
Celestia is a young lady born in wealth with a family that vacations at the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club of Pennsylvania's Lake Conemaugh. Her businessman father and society mother are concerned and conscious of their social standing, always needing to keep up appearances. Much of the story centers around Celestia and her feelings for Peter, the son of a miner who is not of her social station. Celestia's parents try to thwart this young love but various events create opportunities for the two to carry on their relationship. Other narrators include Kate, a young nurse, who is still grieving the drowning death of a boyfriend, and Maura, the wife of a train engineer who is the mother to four young children.
Throughout this entire novel there are references made to the strength of the dam that is located above the small, poor towns below it, and the hope that the dam will continue to hold. This suspense that Richards creates makes this book a page turner as well as a romance. I rooted for Peter and Celestia hoping that eventually Celestia's parents could look beyond their social class and society's expectations so that young love would triumph. I also hoped and prayed that Kate, Maura, Peter and Celestia would manage to survive the tragedy of the Jamestown Flood that would inevitably occur.
Richards has done a great deal of research to be able to produce a novel that is so well crafted and interesting. Historical fiction is not always an easy sell to tween and teen readers, but this book should have a great deal of appeal because of the love story and suspense involved, while still providing an education on the Jamestown Flood. Teachers could also use this book as an example of differences in the classes in society and how expectations and lifestyles were impacted by class.
The only flaw I can find with this book is the cover. I first heard of this book via a review on a book blog and was very interested, but was instantly unimpressed with the cover. Maybe others don't mind the cover, and while we are all told never to judge a book by its cover, this is one title I wouldn't pick up just by looking at the cover, either. There might be a wider readership if the cover were more appealing.
This is one I definitely recommend to historical fiction lovers, those who enjoy romance, suspense, and everyone else who just likes a good book.
Visit Jame Richards' website.