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Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood [Kindle Edition]

Jame Richards
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $8.99
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Book Description

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.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–In late 19th-century Pennsylvania, 16-year-old Celestia spends summer vacations with her family at an exclusive club at Lake Conemaugh in this novel (Knopf/Borzoi, 2010) by Jame Richards. She is all too aware of the seemingly inflexible barriers between classes, but can't help falling in love with Peter, an employee at the club. Their story is at the center of this poignant novel in verse, which unfolds during the summers of 1888 and 1889, climaxing with the tragic Johnstown Flood. Augmenting the romance are the stories of Maura, a young wife and mother of four; Kate, a nurse still grieving the loss of her first love; and Whitcombe, Celestia's father. An ensemble cast performs, led by Eileen Stevens and Joshua Swanson as Celestia and Peter. The well-cast narrator shine in the descriptions of their characters' individual experiences as they are swept up, some literally, in the disaster. Matching their pace to the rhythm of the verse, they skillfully bring listeners along until they, too, are caught up in this moving story. An author's note explores Richards's motivations for writing the story, and there's a chronology of the South Fork Dam and the devastation of the Johnstown Flood.Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

This debut novel in verse uses the 1889 Johnstown flood to explore class divisions and social mores in a moving portrait of four fictional families. Celestia's nouveau riche family would like her to marry well and advance the family's reputation with a pedigreed husband, but she has fallen in love with Peter, a hired hand at the resort hotel. In Johnstown proper lives Maura, a young woman with four small children and a loving husband. On a train to Johnston on the day of the flood is Kate, a widowed nurse who lost her beloved husband and stifles her own emotions by caring for others. The stories intersect in small but beautifully crafted ways. As in Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust (1997), Richards uses spare, clear language to both advance the story and create memorable characters. Even before the kiss / my heart is beating so hard / that it scarcely leaves room for air. Richards provides a time line and bibliography for readers intrigued by the flood. Those who loved the movie Titanic will be drawn to this intensely romantic and polished story. Grades 7-11. --Debbie Carton

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This One Will Be On My Bookshelf Forever May 3, 2010
Format:Hardcover
There are times when all you want is to be able to do justice to a truly extraordinary book with your review. This is one of those times.

This debut novel focuses on the Johnstown Flood of 1889 - when three rivers met and shattered a dam - releasing a deluge of water on unsuspecting townspeople. Told in verse, we are, for the most part, taken through the story with Celestia as our guide. Celestia is a young, aristocratic girl who comes from a "good" family. Her father is heavy into the banking business (think, Carnegie; J.P. Morgan, etc.), and he has taken his family up to Lake Conemaugh (The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club) for the summer, which is the "in" place for all members of high society. Celestia is a reader. She wants nothing more than to excuse herself from the rules and regulations, flee from the captains of industry who simply want to sit around and pat themselves on the back for how brilliant they are, and find a small corner of the forest where she can sit quietly and read.

One day, as she's sitting beside the lake reading peacefully, a young boy who works as a hired hand for the Club walks by her with his fishing pole in hand. Soon, Celestia finds herself talking to Peter and spending all her time with the hardworking boy who has an ailing father in his home "down the mountain." His father is a coal miner, and the black lung is slowly taking his life. Peter is a hopeless romantic; knowing that there's no way possible that he and Celestia can remain together because of their different classes, he still has beautiful words and notions inside his head and heart - hoping that somehow the world will let them find a way.

Estrella is Celestia's older sister. Estrella is everyone's favorite.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel in verse about the Johnstown Flood. April 13, 2010
Format:Hardcover
It is the summer of 1888 when Celestia Whitcomb first meets Peter, who works at the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club in Pennsylvania. Celestia, her older sister Estrella, and their parents are spending their summer on vacation at the club along with many other wealthy members of society. Celestia and Peter become close friends, and their friendship turns to love. It is a romance that if discovered could lead to Celestia becoming an outcast from proper society. Events abruptly separate them, but they secretly keep their love alive and hope to reunited.

At the start of the following summer, Celestia and her father return to the club. Celestia's father wants her to marry a man she can never love, and she is desperate to escape. She decides to go to Johnstown, where Peter lives. At the same time, Kate, a young nursing school graduate, is traveling to her new job, while Maura, a young wife and mother whose husband is a railroad engineer, cares for her young children in their home nearby. None are aware of the disaster and tragedy they will soon witness when the poorly maintained dam at the club breaks, unleashing a flood upon Johnstown.

Three Rivers Rising is a very quick and enjoyable read that I could not put down. It is written in verse, and I haven't read many novels written in this format, but it worked well for the story. I liked how the multiple narrators were included to show different perspectives on the events, although my favorite story was that of Celestia and Peter. Their love for each other was very sweet. And as a fan of historical fiction I loved the interesting historical setting of the story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult novels with a mix of romance, history, and adventure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too August 18, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Johnstown is a quiet, unassuming home for many. During the summer, the residents travel a short distance to the country club to work and earn money. The rich folk spend their summers at the club swimming and relaxing. All seems well for this small area.

In the back of everyone's mind, however, is the dam. Rich men created the dam in order to build a man-made lake. After a heavy rain, news spreads that the dam is breaking, which threatens to wash out Johnstown and all of the outlying cities. Will new and old loves alike be torn apart? Can the residents survive this terrible flood?

If history makes you cringe, have no worries. THREE RIVERS RISING is light on the facts, instead focusing on the storytelling and prose. The main characters are Peter, a poor worker, and Celestia, a rich girl staying at the club. Their romance is forbidden, but they can't stay away from each other. After a dramatic turn of events involving Celestia's sister, their love becomes even more risky. The two struggle to be together, but obstacles abound.

Though written in prose, I found the characters easy to connect with. You couldn't help but hope that each and every character ended up being okay. While the flood is a major part of this book, there is more to it than that. The first half or so is composed of love stories and the struggles that each couple faces. I enjoyed the novel for both of its parts. The combination of prose and historical fiction was very interesting, and I look forward to seeing more from Richards.

I recommend this book to lovers of poetry, romance, or historical fiction. The novel is touching and sincere. Told in alternating perspectives, THREE RIVERS RISING is about so much more than a flood. It's about love, loss, and forgiveness.

Reviewed by: McKenzie Tritt
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I was born in Johnstown and disappointed it the novel
Poorly written. Details not accurate. I was born in Johnstown and disappointed it the novel. Author should have checked her historical facts.
Published 1 month ago by Pat Ritchey
5.0 out of 5 stars unique and captivating style of writing
Many novels are written in the first person, but never have I read one told in multiples of a first person narrative, as in this book. How unique! Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kathleen Ladner
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved, Loved, Loved this book
It draws the reader into it's story and you actually feel like you are in the flood with them! EXCELLENT READ
Published 7 months ago by Jennifer Malisko
5.0 out of 5 stars Swept Away
Three Rivers Rising is the story of the 1889 Johnstown Flood, a terrible situation when too much rain caused a weak reservoir to burst and over 2000 lives were lost in the ensuing... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Tamela Mccann
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books you'll ever read!
Buy this book. You will not be disappointed. Amazing, well-drawn characters set in an historical event. And after you read the book, check out the audio book. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Penny Piva
5.0 out of 5 stars THREE RIVERS RISING
I REALLY ENJOYED THIS BOOK.I LIKED THAT SHE USED DIFFERENT CHARACTER'S VOICES. THE BOOK CAUSED ME TO BE INTERESTED IN MORE OF THAT EVENT IN HISTORY. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Carmen Norlien
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting take on the story of the flood
I have lived in Johnstown my whole life, but I never learned about the 1889 flood until I read David MCCollough book as an adult. Read more
Published on January 6, 2013 by Bridget Kimmick
5.0 out of 5 stars History, disaster, love and redemption in a powerful story
Jame Richards' novel is a multifaceted look at social class, women's issues, love in its many forms and a great disaster. I read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Read more
Published on June 26, 2012 by Lisa A. Sammet
5.0 out of 5 stars Richards Rising
Richards is a remarkable storyteller. The facts are interesting and informative all while the story keeps you reading. Read more
Published on May 4, 2012 by Tiffany Librarian
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction at its best
Since I grew up and have lived in Johnstown my entire life, I have always had an interest in the Johnstown Flood. As a child I read "The Day it Rained Forever. Read more
Published on August 4, 2011 by Laurie
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More About the Author

Jame's interest in history began with reluctance in childhood, when every school vacation involved a family trip in the paneled station wagon to museums, presidential tombs and historical monuments. She bided her time until reaching the gift shop, wondering why she couldn't go to an amusement park or the beach like everyone else. During those long car trips, she learned to write and revise in her head. Twenty years of creative writing (sometimes even on paper) and her knowledge of history come together in Three Rivers Rising, her first novel.

Three Rivers Rising is on the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) 2011 list and the School Library Journal Best Books of 2010 list. It is also the 2011 IRA Children's and Young Adult Book Award, Honorable Mention in the Young Adult category.

Starred reviews: Kirkus and School Library Journal.

Prior to publication, Three Rivers Rising won the PEN New England Children's Book Caucus 2008 Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.

Please visit www.jamerichards.com for more information, including a Reader Guide.

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