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Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood
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Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  951 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Mar 30, 2010 Kelsey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
I was drawn in by Richards beautiful verse. Her writing style was fabulous and the plot was one I’d never read. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but I’ve never read about the Johnstown Flood. Richards did a great job of tying historical facts in with a variety of sub plots. There were five different narrators which may seem like a lot, but it worked out well. The reader got to see different peoples perspectives of the flood and how their stories tied together. The romance was sw ...more
I like novels in verse. I like books told from multiple perspectives. But I don't tend to like books in verse told from multiple perspectives. I find that the free verse doesn't lend itself to establishing different voices for the characters. And that's my major complaint with this book. I found the different stories to be interesting and the historical information at the end to fulfill my requirements--there is a timeline, information on whether characters are real people, modeled after real pe ...more
Jun 19, 2010 Frezanda rated it it was amazing
I usually don't like to read story written in verses. I gues that's because of my wariness of poetry. This book ....what can I say about this book...There are several point of views in this book. The verses style actually help and improve the feeling and emotion the characters had at that point of time. It's really poignant.

The story is really good but for me the story went from good to awesome when the flood happened. Instead of reading the story, it feels like you saw it. You were in the story
Mrs. S
Jan 03, 2013 Mrs. S rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
I picked up this novel-in-verse on a whim in the bookstore today and read it all in one sitting. Told from several (five, I think?) perspectives, this book does a remarkable job of building a world populated with characters I cared about and then crashing in with the flood waters to tear it all down.

If you're not familiar with the story of the flood (as I was not before I read this book), it's hard to believe. In the mid-1800s, a dam was built to create a reservoir for industrial use, perched o
Steph Su
Nov 16, 2009 Steph Su rated it liked it
Shelves: debs10
THREE RIVERS RISING, Jame Richards’ debut novel, is a moving work of historical fiction, its verse format making it all the more accessible to a wider audience. The story and character development feel a little forced, however, but in spite of these problems I still found it a good read, worthy of sharing.

I had never heard of the Johnstown flood before, but it was a great backdrop for a variety of characters’ stories, and it added a deeper layer of complexity and suspense to the historical ficti
Mar 01, 2010 kari rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, 2010, 5-star
This is the story of the 1889 Johnstown flood as seen through the eyes of several fictional characters who experience it.
Celestia, the daughter of a rich industrialist falls in love with Peter, who is a working class boy from Johnstown, most of the story is about the two of them, her family and how they strive to be together.
I think her family's behavior/reaction was very true to the times and who they were. Nicely brought up young ladies simply didn't mix with the help, but Celestia sees the w
Abby Johnson
Jun 27, 2010 Abby Johnson rated it liked it
Shelves: blogged
Three and a half stars - sometimes a girl needs a half!!

I love historical fiction about events that I didn't know anything about and this book absolutely fits the bill. Lake Conemaugh was a man-made reservoir, stocked with fish for the pleasure of rich tourists. Though the dam showed signs of wear, the owners neglected to make the necessary repairs, even though tons of water threatened thousands of people living in the valleys below the resort. In 1889, the dam broke, flooding the valley and kil
Aug 31, 2011 Khornberger rated it really liked it
This historical novel written in verse is a perfect selection for any student but what a great find it would be for someone required to read historical fiction! Jame Richard's knowledge and research is impressive; she weaves her wealth of knowledge (gathered on this one specific event in history since she was a child) into verse which is simple yet draws readers immediately into the various characters lives and situations. The class differences are interesting and they illustrate how money does ...more
May 23, 2010 Briony rated it really liked it
This was an interesting perspective on a historical event. The author's purpose was to create an account that did not solely focus on the actual event but rather integrated it into her story line. While I immensely enjoyed the book, it was not what I originally expected.

Richards created a book that was beautifully written and smoothly transitioned from one person to the next. I also found it to be a very quick read and I had a hard time putting it down, but the book only received four stars for
Guadalupe McCall
Jan 03, 2010 Guadalupe McCall rated it it was amazing
This was a great read. I loved Celestia and Estrella...they were so full of life. I especially liked how a fellow Tenner and poet wove a beautiful story against the historical facts of the flood in Johnstown. The metaphors were beautifully executed. It was so good, I devoured it in less than 24 hours. Great job Jame! FIVE STARS
Amy White
Nov 30, 2009 Amy White rated it it was amazing
I love historical fiction and was very excited to read this novel by a fellow Tenner. Jame does an amazing job of evoking the time period, the conflicts between social classes, and the different voices telling the story. What I especially loved was how she conveys the complexity of emotions swirling before, during, and after the flood.

Looking forward to more novels by Jame!
Apr 10, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it
I found this book riveting. And, I'm wavering between giving it 4 or 5 stars. The ending just didn't sit right with me. It seemed way too tidy for a book about such destruction. But, the use of free verse to tell the story is perfect because it conveys the sense of urgency, shock and fear that people must have felt during the flood. Great book!
Lindsay Eland
Nov 29, 2009 Lindsay Eland rated it it was amazing
I finished this book last week and it's absolutely amazing! Jame's does an incredible job with every single element in this's really a masterpiece and is just as haunting and enchanting as Out of the Dust. Highly, highly recommend!
Apr 20, 2011 Julie rated it liked it
the girls' behavior
which would have been unforgivably wild
by Victorian standards

Nobody went swimming with the opposite sex
after dark
in the 1880s

And despite
the much-too-tidy happy ending
complete with Lord Edgar

I survived
the Johnstown flood
and a novel in verse
Irene Latham
Sep 18, 2009 Irene Latham rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction and written in verse. Wonderful voices and story soared above the historical drama. LOVED! Also written by a fellow Tenner. :)
Dec 24, 2010 Randi rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Novel in verse...can't wait to discuss this with the Challenge Book Club students. I love learning history from fiction!
Jillian Bakos
This book was one of the best books I read this 2016! The book "Three River's Rising" is a true story that is based off of the Jamestown flood in 1888. The set up of the book was in a poem form making it easier to read. Also, the chapters switched from different perspectives allowing me to hear everyone's point of view. Considering all of the different people I have learned about in the story, the main character is Celesta, a teenage girl growing up in Jamestown, PA in 1888. The story focuses on ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
Jul 08, 2010 Margo Tanenbaum rated it it was amazing
Debut novelist Jame Richards has written a mesmerizing novel in verse set against the shocking backdrop of the Johnstown Flood of 1889. The story of the Johnstown Flood has plenty of juicy ingredients to make a compelling novel: an exclusive resort, where the wealthiest of Pittsburgh society vacationed, an intense storm, the failure of a dam, perhaps due to negligence, the destruction of a working class city, and an enormous national and even international relief effort, which included Clara Bar ...more
Ms. Mulhern Gross
Nov 21, 2010 Ms. Mulhern Gross rated it really liked it
This marking period my seniors are focusing on environmental and engineering disasters. We just read Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People and our next book is David McCullough’s The Johnstown Flood. When I received a review copy of Jame Richards’ Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood over the summer, I knew I would want to read it closer to when we were focusing on the Johnstown Flood disaster. Over the holiday weekend I finished the book and I can not wait to share it with my seniors. I ...more
Sep 30, 2012 Erica rated it it was amazing
Three Rivers Rising is a novel written in verse and tells the story of the flood in Johnstown through multiple narrators. Johnstown is settled in the valley below three rivers and is a primarily mining community of working class families. On the hill, the South Fork Dam was built to create a lake for the aristocratic vacationers and members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. Ultimately the flood forces the various narrators to reexamine their own values and perceptions of people living ...more
Carrie Abigail
May 18, 2011 Carrie Abigail rated it really liked it
Three Rivers Rising was an excellent combination of a forbidden romance and major historical event. Books like this really capture my attention because they use something that really happened but weave interesting storylines around it.

This book really resonated with me because my relative survived the Johnstown Flood. However, I don't I ever really realized what happened that day in Johnstown, so this was perfect to provide me with the basic information. I'm now ready to read David McCullough's
Jan 27, 2014 Yvette rated it really liked it
I bought this book while on a brief Noah's Ark/flood buying tangent on Over a year ago. And each time I look at it, I think, why did I buy this one? It is YA fiction, which I like as a break between denser reads, and it has a real historic event as a background. All good so far, but then again, it's all in verse. That can't be good, right? I'll probably be cringing through some really forced stuff... Not once. This read smoothly, like prose written in really short lines. It wasn' ...more
This novel in verse tells the stories of the inhabitants of the communities around Johnstown Pennsylvania in 1888 and 1889. Celestia, the daughter of a wealthy Pittsburgh businessman has come to the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club with her parents and older sister for summer vacation. Relaxing by the lake (reservoir) reading, Celestia meets Peter, the son of a coal miner from Johnstown. Celestia and Peter quickly become friends and then involved in a secret romance. Maura, a young wife and m ...more
Mar 11, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2010 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Celestia has always been the daughter who obeys her father, preferring books over boys. But when she meets Peter, a boy who works at the hotel she is staying at with her family, she falls in love. The two of them spend secret hours together swimming in Lake Conemaugh, talking and stealing kisses. Distracted by her budding relationship, Celestia is not aware that her sister is also in love, but Estrella has gone much farther and ends up pregnant. Celestia must now give up her love and attend to h ...more
Nov 24, 2010 Aimee rated it really liked it
"Three Rivers Rising" packs a lot of punch in a small package. The book was written in verse allowing Jame Richards to say a lot using few words. I loved how the book followed multiple characters with completely different backgrounds. It made the book more than just a story of forbidden love; the flood affected people in many different ways and "Three Rivers Rising" did a wonderful job of showing this. There wasn't a ton of character development, but just enough to care about the characters whil ...more
Aug 13, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
I really liked Three Rivers Rising. It's probably going to be one of my favorite books that I've read in 2012. I love that it's historical, that it's sad but not too terribly sad and it's a love story, and it's written in verse. I love the names of the two daughters, Estrella and Celestia. And I love how brave and strong each one of them is. I love how Celestia understands the choices she makes and that they have consequences. I love that they all get happy endings! (Estrella's esp cracks me up! ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Aug 18, 2010 Jennifer Wardrip rated it it was amazing
Reviewed by McKenzie Tritt for

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
Erin Sullivan
Mar 08, 2012 Erin Sullivan rated it really liked it
I read the book Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards. When I picked it up at the library I honestly did not think I was going to like it, although I wanted to try something new for once. I am not a girl who likes love storybooks but this one seemed to keep me interested. If you liked Romeo and Juliet then this is the book for you, two people who are in love but they cannot be together because of their different class levels.
It started out a bit slow, a long introduction with a great story to f
Feb 24, 2014 Alyssa rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Peole who likes historical fictions, and books written in prose.
This book was an assigned reading for my YA Lit & Media class for our historical fiction section. This story takes place before/during the Johsntown Flood. It begins with the summer Celestia and her family stay at a hunting club. Celestia and her sister both become involved with guys a bit out of their reach, and must deal with the consequences. It also chronicles the same bit of time for various other characters, Maura a young mother and wife to a man herald a hero and lives in the area aff ...more
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Mrs. Gallagher's ...: Novel in verse: Three Rivers Rising 1 2 May 01, 2013 07:46PM  
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Share This Book

“The sunset competes with the red glow over Johnstown.
And I know,
at any given moment,
metal is liquid fire
lighting the night sky,
becoming steel
that will build tracks
to anywhere she might be.
It will build bridges between the glittering stars
and the likes of me.”
“No artifice,
no pretending to faint
or slipping so he could catch me.
Just our locked gaze
tightening the space between us
until our voices
need only whisper,
lips to ear,
then lips upon lips.”
More quotes…