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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Three Rivers Rising

Jame Richards’ debut novel, Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood, has two of my favorite styles of writing…novel in verse and multiple points of view. Although the genre is historical fiction, the most powerful part of this book is each fictitious character’s narrative. They include an upper-class young girl who becomes disowned by her family for falling in love with the hired help, a nurse who has experienced her own personal tragedy before the flood ever occurs, and the loving wife of a heroic railroad conductor. The characters’ stories represent the voices of the victims of the fateful 1889 Johnstown flood, where 2,209 people lost their lives due to the failure of the poorly managed South Fork Dam. My students should pair this book with the nonfiction book, The Story of the Johnstown Flood by R. Conrad Stein (974.8 STE). Click here for more information about this tragedy. The video below depicts what happened on May 31, 1889.

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