Blackwater

Blackwater

4.1 43
by Eve Bunting
     
 

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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

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Overview

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)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bunting (I Have an Olive Tree; Smoky Night) crafts an ethics-centered novel that will long flicker in readers' memories. Brodie's plans to go camping with his best friend on the nearby banks of the furious Blackwater River are foiled when his younger cousin, Alex, comes to spend the summer. To top it off, Alex also wrecks 13-year-old Brodie's highly anticipated plans to take his classmate and crush, Pauline, to the movies. One morning, Brodie decides to teach Alex how to swim in a protected area of the Blackwater, and the two spy Pauline cozying up to an older boy on a rock in the middle of the river. Bunting's cunning description of the tragic incident that follows leaves just enough room for readers' to interpret the events. Should Brodie be elevated to hero status, shunned as a villain, or somewhere in between? And Alex, with his proclivity for fibbing, devises a cover-up that further obscures the truth. But it soon becomes evident that someone else witnessed what happened in the Blackwater River. Smoothly shifting between dialogue and his inner thoughts, Brodie's affecting, first-person narrative makes the boy's nightmarish struggle with his conscience chillingly credible. Bunting's thought-provoking theme, solid characterization and skillful juggling of suspense and pathos make this a top-notch choice for both boys and girls. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Brodie Lynch, a thirteen-year-old preacher's son, begins his summer by playing a practical joke on the girl of his dreams and her boyfriend. The results are so tragic that he succumbs to his disliked cousin Alex's interpretation of them to the police--a lie that makes Brodie a hero. Now Brodie must live with his lie that destroys the reputation of another. He's torn between Alex--the devil's advocate--his upbringing, and the Batgirl Hannah's sound advice. Bunting's moralistic novella is terse and to the point, though her picture of the inter-relationships in a small town is nicely drawn.
KLIATT
To quote KLIATT's July 1999 review of the hardcover edition: Brodie, age 13, is annoyed when his troubled twelve-year-old cousin Alex comes to stay with his family for the summer. For one thing, Brodie had planned to take pretty Pauline to the movies, and now Alex is tagging along everywhere. Brodie lives in Rivertown, in Sonoma County, California, alongside the powerful Blackwater River, and he decides to teach Alex to swim. When they arrive at the swimming hole, however, Brodie spots Pauline with another boy, Otis. Filled with jealousy, Brodie plays a prank on Pauline that goes tragically wrong. Pauline and Otis tumble into the river's swift current and are swept downstream. Despite Brodie's best efforts, Pauline drowns and Otis is missing. Alex tells everyone that Brodie behaved heroically, without mentioning the prank, but Brodie knows what really happened—and so does someone else, it turns out, as clues are left on his doorstep. Will he have the courage to confess the truth? This suspenseful, fast-moving tale conveys Brodie's shame and confusion well, exploring his moral dilemma thoroughly. Brodie is tempted to blame his sleazy cousin for the fix he's in, but he eventually realizes that he must take responsibility. A friend helps him with that realization, and his parents are extraordinarily supportive. A good choice for reluctant readers, and a good novel for discussion, too. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 1999, HarperTrophy, 146p, 20cm, 99-24895, $4.95. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-"TELL." When 13-year-old Brodie reads the note, he realizes that someone knows his terrible secret. He didn't intend for anything bad to happen; he'd only planned to teach his pesky cousin Alex how to swim. But when the two arrive at the swimming hole, a dammed-up part of the dangerous Blackwater River, they find Pauline and Otis already there, sunning on a large rock. Brodie has a crush on Pauline and is jealous of the older boy. He quietly swims over to the rock and starts to pull her into the water. Otis pulls back and the screaming girl is stuck in the middle like a wishbone. When Brodie lets go, the other two teenagers fall backward into the swiftly rushing river. He jumps in the water to try to save them, but the current is too strong and he must be rescued. Pauline and Otis drown and Brodie is hailed a hero, especially when Alex tells his own trumped-up version of the story. Brodie means to be honest, but because of his injuries and the reactions of others, he finds he cannot tell the real story. How long-and how safely-can he keep his secret? Similar in plot to Marion Dane Bauer's On My Honor (Clarion, 1986), Bunting's more complex novel is an exciting blend of physical and psychological action and conflict as Brodie is caught in a web of deceit, as guilt and fear overcome his desire to tell the truth. The novel also focuses on friendship, family, and forgiveness as Brodie's friend Hannah helps him admit his responsibility in the accident. An engrossing tale with likable, realistic characters.-Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In an unusually weak story from the prolific Bunting, a teenager wavers between staying silent and confessing his responsibility for a half-serious prank that results in two deaths. Offended at finding a girl on whom he had pinned some summer dreams making out with another boy, Brodie sneaks up to startle them, then watches in horror as they fall into the river and are swept away. His desperate effort to save them makes him an instant local celebrity. Injured, half drowned himself and sedated by the doctor, he has no chance to set the record straight at first, and as time goes by, the prospect of telling the truth becomes harder to contemplate. In the meantime, Alex, a visiting cousin who knows the truth, trumpets Brodie's heroism for reasons of his own, while there is evidence of a mysterious witness to the tragedy. With the support of a loyal friend and loving parents, Brodie finds the strength to come clean, but since he has been presented as a stable, right-thinking character, his decision is never really in doubt. While Bunting hints at the price Brodie will have to pay for holding back, the story ends before the boom actually falls. Ingrid Tomey makes the horns of a similar dilemma much sharper in Nobody Else Has To Know (p. 890), while Marion Dane Bauer, of course, charted a more subtle route in On My Honor (1986). (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780064408905
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/28/2000
Edition description:
First HarperTrophy Edition
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
222,979
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.32(d)
Lexile:
510L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

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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