Jackie French Koller, . . Scholastic/ Orchard, $16.95 (215pp) ISBN 978-0-439-29317-4
Fourteen-year-old Celie Wheeler has much to think about: her plans to be a writer; her changing relationship with her best friend, a boy; and the imminent loss of her home, which has been in her family since the 1700s. Set in the Depression, this coming-of-age story unfolds against the backdrop of the actual last days of the four towns in Massachusetts's Swift River Valley, which in 1939 was flooded to create a reservoir for Boston. Amid the demolitions and the deliberately set fires that punctuate her days, Celie juggles her own despair with her concern for her aged grandmother and widowed mother, even as she experiences the thrill of her first romantic feelings—for the young man sent by the Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission to finish emptying the town. With complex, finely drawn characters and fluid language that rings true for the period and place, the story is satisfying emotionally as well as intellectually. Koller's (the Dragonlings series) afterword explores environmental and social issues raised by the episode. Adolescent readers, experiencing their own transitions toward adulthood, will respond to the literal submersion of the heroine's past and to her eventual embrace of the future. Ages 10-up.
Reviewed on: 07/01/2002