Harmony Book Reviews

Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards

Posted on: September 3, 2009

Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood

Title: Three Rivers Rising

Author: Jame Richards

Rating: 8/10

Good If…You enjoy verse or historical novels.

Summary: (Taken from Amazon)

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.
: I had mixed feelings going in this book – on one hand, I was really excited to learn about a tragedy that took place not too far from me but on the other, I was nervous because I’m extremely picky about novels written in verse. Luckily, Richards knows what she’s doing.

That said, it did take me a while to get into the story. I wish more of a hook had been presented right off the bat, instead of taking so long for the action to actually start.

The romance between Celestia and Peter was probably my favorite part of the novel. It was sweet and forbidden and all around just well-written. I felt it also gave us an inside peek on just how much rank in society played in relationships in that time.

Since this was my first experience with the Johnstown flood (I’d never even heard of it before which is sad, considering I’m a PAer myself!), I can’t say whether the day was accurately displayed in the novel or not. But, considering how real it felt, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that it was. Richards did an astonishing job of describing the day in a way that instantly pulls the reader in. I felt the fear and frustration that the characters were feeling and could easily picture it in my mind.

My one complaint is that I wish the novel had been longer. I would’ve liked to have seen the other characters develop more and see farther into Celestia’s and Peter’s relationship. Otherwise, I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys verse novels or has an interest in anything historical.


4 Responses to "Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards"

Not my kind of book but still a good one, I think.

Thanks for the review, Harmony! You’re a thoughtful reader (the very best kind).


This book is amazing! I got a peek into one of the ARCs. Wow!!!

Ooh this sounds so good! I’m jealous that you got an ARC so far in advance. I can’t wait til this book comes out.

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