Blackwaterby Eve Bunting
Thirteen-year-old Brodie Lynch was ready for the perfect summer of adventure along the awesome Blackwater River. That was before everything changed forever. When a harmless prank goes too far, the unthinkable happens. Brodie's lies make him a hero, but inside, his guilt tears at him like the treacherous current of the Blackwater itself, which has become a… See more details below
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Thirteen-year-old Brodie Lynch was ready for the perfect summer of adventure along the awesome Blackwater River. That was before everything changed forever. When a harmless prank goes too far, the unthinkable happens. Brodie's lies make him a hero, but inside, his guilt tears at him like the treacherous current of the Blackwater itself, which has become a horrifying reminder of his part in the tragedy. In this gripping new coming-of-age novel, a young boy is faced with a choice between right and wrong and ultimately learns that truth can offer hope in even the darkest moments.
01-02 Golden Sower Award Masterlist (YA Cat.)
2000 Quick Picks for Young Adults (Recomm. Books for Reluctant Young Readers)
Read an Excerpt
The Blackwater river flows through our town. I've lived with that river for thirteen years, ever since I was born. I've seen it run gently and I've seen it angry and hateful. My parents taught me to respect the Blackwater. I always knew how terrible it could be, but I didn't know how, one summer, it would change my life. I didn't know there would be deaths, and disgrace and misery, and that the river would be to blame for it all. Or am I blaming the Blackwater when I should be blaming myself?
The summer wasn't turning out the way I'd planned. First and worst, my cousin Alex had come up from Los Angeles to spend the summer in Rivertown. He'd only been with us a week when I discovered that he's a whiner and a show-off and I think probably a big liar, too. Because of him my friend John Sun and I couldn't go downriver on the trip we'd been planning all year. We were going to camp along the banks, fish, snare rabbits and live off the land. At first we thought we might still go and take Alex. But that was before we met him. Anyway, Mom said we couldn't take him. She was responsible for him and he was only twelve.
"So? We're only thirteen," I'd said.
"Yes, Brodie. But I know you and John can handle camping. I'm not sure about Alex." And of course my parents said I couldn't just go off and leave him here alone. So everything was messed up.
And then, just to make it worse, Dad asked me to be especially nice to Alex. "He's been having such a bad time at home," he said. "And he's a nice kid, really. He just needs some normal living."
Dad is pastor of our community church, St. Mark's, and he'd actually believe a werewolf was really nice and only needed somenormal living. If he ever met a werewolf.
I know about Alex's "bad time at home." Two years ago his dad went off and left Alex and his mom. The parents were getting a divorce now . . . a difficult divorce, my mom called it. Alex's mom is my mom's sister, so I guess this was supposed to be our way of helping out.
And then, and this was actually the all-time worst, Alex had spoiled a major summer hope of mine. There was this girl at El Camino, my school. Her name was Pauline Genero and she was so pretty, it made my mouth go dry, just looking at her. I finally got up my nerve on the last day of school, urged on by John, and I asked Pauline if she'd like to go to the movies with me over summer vacation.
"My grandma sent me a pass for the Cineplex for two people for four times," I'd told her, stammering and stuttering and sounding like a bozo.Pauline had pushed back her long blond hair and opened wide her sky-blue eyes.
"Are you asking me to go to the movies with you four times?"
I'd never in my craziest dreams hoped for more than one time but . . . "F . . . f . . . four would be great," I said.
"Cool! OK. I like movies."
John had to practically hold me up walking home from school. "Wow!" he'd said. "Four dates with Pauline Genero. She must like you a lot if she jumped at going four times like that."
I'd felt myself go red. "Oh, she probably just likes movies, the way she said." Still, I was jazzed and happy. "I can fit the times in easily with our trip," I'd told John. "Don't worry."
But now there was no trip. And would Mom and Dad expect me to take Alex to the Cineplex, too? I wasn't sure they'd realize the importance of a date with Pauline Genero. I wasn't sure they'd even go along with it. They're big on having pals and doing things in a crowd. Already I'd had to call Pauline, mumbling and fumbling for words. I'd explained that we might have to wait a bit to use Grandma's free tickets, till Alex got used to being here. And the awful thing was, Pauline had sounded real casual and said: "Whatever. No big deal." As if it wasn't. Why did stupid Alex have to come this summer anyway?
And now John had gone to his uncle's ranch in Montana for a whole month. He'd shrugged. "Might as well. There's not going to be much happening around here. My uncle has horses."
So I was left with Alex-night and day. He was sharing my bedroom, grinding his teeth and whimpering all night long, which, I'm sure, was because of all that stuff at home. I felt sorry for him then. It's just, when he was awake, he was not that easy to be nice to. Still, I told myself I had to try.
That night, listening to him sniffling in the other bed, I'd thought of one thing I could do that would make Dad happy. So I woke Alex up early.
"I'm going to teach you to swim," I said. "We're going to the river."
He whined and complained, of course, the way he does about everything.
"Hey! Gimme a break! What time is it anyway?" He looked up at where my Star Trek clock shines its numbers (inside the shape of the starship) on my ceiling. "Six a.m. How come we have to go this early?"
"Because you have to learn to swim if you're going to be here all summer. It's just what all the kids do. And if we go now there won't be anybody around. You don't want them to laugh at you, do you? Twelve years old and not able to swim."
I threw him the new swim trunks his mom must have bought for him before he left home. He complained some more, of course, but I paid no attention.We let ourselves quietly out of the sleeping house and headed down the hill to the river.
I could hear the rush of it and smell its river smell. You can just about hear and smell that river from any place in town.
Six a.m. and nobody about.
I pulled my towel from around my neck, flipped it at a bee that was zooming toward me, and gave Alex a secret, sideways glance. He's thin and white and slopey and his hair is stringy black. The first night he came he'd told me he belonged to a really tough gang in L.A. called the Vultures. Really tough. I'd tried not to laugh. A brutal gang of twelve-year-olds who looked like Alex. Sure!
"So what do the Vultures do?" I asked now.
"Oh, shoplift, steal purses, rob houses, stuff like that," Alex mumbled.
"Yeah? Rob houses?" I said. As if I'd believe this baloney. Did he think I'd be impressed?Blackwater. Copyright � by Eve Bunting. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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