Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dark Water” as Want to Read:
Dark Water
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Dark Water

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  744 Ratings  ·  194 Reviews
A National Book Award Finalist
A Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens

Fifteen-year-old Pearl DeWitt lives in Fallbrook, California, where it's sunny 340 days of the year, and where her uncle owns a grove of 900 avocado trees. Uncle Hoyt hires migrant workers regularly, but Pearl doesn't pay much attention to them...until Amiel. From the moment she sees him, Pearl is drawn to
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published January 1st 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dark Water, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dark Water

Polarity in Motion by Brenda VicarsNoughts & Crosses by Malorie BlackmanDrawn by Chris  LedbetterLiving Violet by Jaime ReedJerkbait by Mia Siegert
Interracial young adult novels
149th out of 225 books — 140 voters
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsCatching Fire by Suzanne CollinsMockingjay by Suzanne CollinsSpeak by Laurie Halse AndersonThe Giver by Lois Lowry
453rd out of 507 books — 296 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,268)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 16, 2011 Tatiana rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of literary YA fiction
I just don't get it, why is it necessary to sell every YA book as some romance story, regardless of its actual content?

Just take a look at Dark Water's publisher provided description: Fifteen-year-old Pearl DeWitt and her mother live in Fallbrook, California... where her uncle owns a grove of 900 avocado trees. Uncle Hoyt hires migrant workers regularly, but Pearl doesn’t pay much attention to them . . . until Amiel. From the moment she sees him, Pearl is drawn to this boy who keeps to himself,
Shirley Marr
Dec 07, 2011 Shirley Marr rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shirley by: Reynje
Shelves: usa-ya
There is so much outstanding Aussie YA that I find I rarely find myself wandering from the field. When I do stray into USA YA - this book is exactly what I look for! I'm sorry USA, but I don't want to read the Disneyfied American High School stuff or the whitewashed stuff involving Angels that could be set anywhere. I want to know what makes you You. And the more left of centre and the more problems (societal and internal) it touches on, the better.

Dark Water examines the summer 15-year-old Pear

Welcome to Conflicted-Ville (population: one), where this ambivalent resident will attempt to stop flip-flopping between opinions and write a review with a modicum of coherency.

This award-winning coming of age novel by Laura McNeal has garnered a bevy of praise and accolades, and much love from readers and reviewers alike for its beautifully written prose and thought provoking denouement.

Dark Water has some serious literary style, in that the writing is considered and subtle. While atmospheric
Aug 27, 2013 Karen rated it it was ok
Well, this book irritated me more than any in recent memory. Before I get going on my rant, in the interest of being fair, I’ll start off by mentioning two things the book did well. First, the writing itself was well done. Second, the banter between Pearl and her cousin was pretty amusing.

But now I’m done being fair. Pearl was just totally and completely an unsympathetic character. She started off fine—not particularly charismatic, but not especially annoying either. But then, when her obsessiv
Nov 02, 2010 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult-teen
Love, love, love the writing. McNeal knows her way around a sentence. But I didn't buy the love story or main character Pearl's improbably bad decision making based upon it. Great adult crossover potential, but I would have to think about the ideal teen reader. Several 8th graders reading it now for National Book Award panel, so we'll see...
Blown away by beautiful writing & aching story

In Laura McNeal's DARK WATER, fifteen-year-old Pearl and her mother find themselves living in a rundown cottage on her uncle's avocado ranch after her father leaves. With her mother withering under stress and her cousin Robby hatching vengeful plans against his father, Pearl notices Amiel, one of the new migrant workers. Pearl's tentative relationship with Amiel pushes boundaries, and for the first time in her life, she's making up lies about whe
Sep 23, 2010 Carolina rated it it was amazing
DARK WATER can probably be summed up in one word: LONGING.

Now, have a look at that cover. The girl wades into the water, her eyes closed, her face tilted upward. You can practically hear in her mind: please. Brilliant, no? So freaking moving just to look at it. And they used one of the focal points within the story, the dark water, to convey that sense of mystery which pervades the entire book.

From the outset, we know that there is some great fire that breaks out (so no mystery there) and we kno
Feb 02, 2011 Andrea rated it did not like it
Despite that fact hat McNeal's Dark Water was a finalist for the National Book Award, the novel is one-sided, overly romantic and only further serves to stereotype Mexican immigrant experience. This novel plays into the worse kind of stereotypes about undocumented worker communities. Using the backdrop of the 2007 fires that raged across San Diego county, the novel only serves to feed the fire of reactionary politics in San Diego. The novel not only fails to grapple with the complexities and har ...more
A sure sign of an excellent novel: Compelled to stay awake reading into the wee hours of night because you can’t bear the thought of leaving your ‘friend’ (i.e. protagonist) in a lurch, feeling it your honor bound duty to ‘help’ resolve his/her dilemma and/or peril; then waking bleary-eyed the following morning, mentally reliving it all over again; superbly penned by Laura McNeal, “Dark Water” is a prime example.

Dark Water is a coming of age story set in the avocado ranch region of Fallbrook, C
Apr 08, 2012 Natalie rated it liked it
Painful....finishing this book left me feeling a little sick. The writing was beautiful, and that's partly why I kept reading it. The author has a gentle, subtle style, full of meaning and description without being too flowery, The story moved like water, flowing and swift.

The story felt real. I could understand and believe teenagers making the choices that the characters in this book made. That didn't make it any less frustrating to watch it all unfolding. I can't really think about the end of
Feb 06, 2011 Kayla rated it it was ok
The novel, Dark Water by Laura McNeal grabbed my interest after I'd read the short description of the book off of the Barnes and Noble website. However, I was disappointed by the book, overall. The story was slow-moving, predictable, and to be quite frank, dull. Nothing terribly exciting happened,and the most exciting event in the book is given away in the very beginning, which was a poor choice on the writer's behalf. It didn't actually get interesting until around page 220. The only reason I k ...more
Ellz Readz
Oct 06, 2010 Ellz Readz rated it liked it
My thoughts...Dark Water is a book based on actual events. The fires in California are a reality many people deal with regularly. The characters, while fictional, felt very real as did their fear. This story left me with goosebumps.

The beginning of Dark Water started off slow. There was quite a bit of character development and few side stories that distracted me. The love story between Pearl and Amiel took a while to develop and fell a bit short. I would begin to feel a strong pull between the
Ashley B.
Jun 17, 2011 Ashley B. rated it really liked it
This book Dark Water by Laura McNeal is a good book. This book is about a girl who falls in love with a boy who is an illegal immigrant and she is trying to not only make herself happy but she also try to make her family and this boy that she love happy also. There is then a fire in Fallbrook ,where is life with her family and the boy she love, she not only try to save herself but she also try to save the one she love. But there is a problem, the boy that she try to save is scared
Mar 03, 2013 7706cloe rated it it was amazing
This book was one of my all time favorites of 7th grade...
It's about a girl who's dad left the family, and her and her mother are living on her uncle's farm. one day, the girl sees a boy about her age juggling, then standing on his head and doing all these cool tricks. she asks her uncle to hire him to help grow/guard avocado trees the uncle grows on his farm. when the uncle hires the boy out of sympathy for the girl, the girl starts to love the boy and write him secret messages because he has a
Nov 13, 2012 Kellyflower rated it liked it
Photobucket Photobucket

This has been said in many reviews, but I feel I should say it too. This is not a Forbidden romance kind of YA book. It's realistic YA.

The book left me emotional drained, which I was not expecting. I knew I'd be sad by the end because of other reviews, but it was much deeper then I thought it was going to be.
Jul 15, 2011 nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I read this as part of the Nerds Heart YA book challenge. It had been on my reading list for a little bit, but I wouldn't have expected to get as wrapped up as I did. McNeal's story alternates between velvet and sandpaper -- drawing you in with soft touches and descriptions of a lazy, languid world, and then rips you up with Pearl's headstrong decisions and awful hindsight. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this read and am so happy that my partner and I decided to move it along to the n ...more
Aashna Singh
Feb 26, 2015 Aashna Singh rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 09, 2014 Mel rated it liked it
Dark Water is very well written. The main character Pearl is, somewhat relateable. She's 15 years old. She has an (obsessive) crush. She is (not really)dealing with her father leaving her mother. Her best friend (Greenie) has gone from duckling to swan. They are growing apart because Greenie now has a boyfriend. I want to say that maybe they are growing apart because Pearl is somewhat immature and a little dumb. But, maybe that's just me. Anyway, Pearl and her mother are living with her uncle Ho ...more
May 10, 2016 Shellie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, contemporary
Pearl and her mother live in an upside down house--metaphorically, of course. Pearl's dad left them and moved to Phoenix and now the two of them live in a small guest house on her uncle's property in Southern California, not making beds or ironing and eating canned soup. Her mom is the creative type who was used to fifteen years of "doing whatever you want to do because you find it meaningful and sincere, while someone else does the mind-blowing repetitive, corporate sellout work that pays for t ...more
Feb 27, 2012 Demo rated it liked it
Recommends it for: the patient
I really hate giving this a negative review, but I just have to. I wasn't able to finish this book, and for one main reason:


The writing was good, the humor was great, but there was just nothing exciting going on. We're told about Pearl's days out with Greenie, her happiness over Amiel, her disiking of her father, blah blah blah---but that's all it is. The everyday life of Pearl, with very little interesting occurrence. It was just too slow paced.
Alma  Ramos-McDermott
Oct 12, 2010 Alma Ramos-McDermott rated it really liked it
Pearl finds herself drawn into the world of a homeless migrant worker, and begins to lie and scheme up ways for them to secretly meet - despite knowing that no one would understand her feelings for a Mexican who is from a different social class, especially her mother. It was pretty good. A little unrealistic at times, but a good storyline.
Jun 08, 2015 Julie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
In our'80s-era creative writing class, Laura was the rock star writer--already fully formed. When I found out recently she was still not only writing, but publishing book-length fiction with none other than Random House, I wasn't surprised. In Laura's YA novel Dark Water, the central teen girl's obsession with a quiet illegal immigrant, has pretty awful consequences. Laura plumbs this and the general teen awfulness that precedes it in breathtaking prose that rivals E.B. White's (who I kept think ...more
Rachael Sizemore
Once again my F'ing review didn't get posted. Thanks Goodreads!

So, I'm giving this book 3.5 stars.

I've contemplated what to say about this book and yet i'm still at a loss. What really surprised me was that the synopsis sounds like it's a tale of star-crossed lovers when, in fact, it is so much more than that. This is a beautifully crafted tale of family, loss, love, grief, and friendship.

The only major problem I had revolved around the romance.

This is the type of book that I really don't like t
May 21, 2011 Rosanne rated it really liked it
Beautifully written, very sad, not a love story despite what the blurb says!
Pearl falls for her uncle's migrant worker, Amiel, a young man with a mysterious past. But her longing for Amiel leads to a tragic consequence as she hints throughout the book. Even with these hints, the turn of events still comes as a shock. Pearl's story is passionate and heartbreaking but at book's end you wonder if she isn't hanging on too tight to an impossible dream. And you have to love lines like "I was Braille and his eyes were fingers" and "I adjusted to the situation the way I suppose ...more
Jessie Weaver
Jun 14, 2014 Jessie Weaver rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, ya
Sometimes I get the idea that maybe I’ll be able to find the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games before anyone else. Well, this wasn’t it. Dark Water is touted as a Romeo and Juliet type romance between a modern-day California teenager whose father has recently walked out and one of her uncle’s Mexican migrant workers. While McNeal’s writing is very readable, I felt like some depth was missing. I just didn’t get the relationship between Amiel and Pearl. This is a rare case where I actually think i ...more
Piper (An Ocean of Words)
Dark Water is a wonderful book for fans of We Were Liars, Even In Paradise, and all of Melina Marchetta's novels. It is a short,emotional story tale of personal growth and yes- tragedy.

"The breeze that carried you off is lifting me Gently;
and I shall follow those who loved me in my exile."- Victor Hugo

Reading this book again after two years was an interesting experience. I found myself appreciating McNeal's vivd imagery and the complex, interesting characters: our main character lives on a far
Andrea at Reading Lark
Review Posted on Reading Lark 2/17/12:

Dark Water is a complex story that lingers in your mind long after you have finished. Migrant workers, racism, and family drama all receive attention. This read is particularly relevant for teens today in light of some of the hateful and hurtful things that have been said against Mexicans in the United States. The lives of workers who are here illegally are not easy ones. Perhaps this book will help teens think before
Apr 06, 2011 Khornberger rated it liked it
This is a somewhat mesmerizing novel about a girl named Pearl whose live has just been upended by her father. He has left her and her mother virtually homeless and penniless. As a result, they move onto Pearl's uncle's California avocado ranch. The relationship is a bit strained, but the reader soon sees that the origin occurred prior to their financial reliance upon her uncle's family and mainly lies with her aunt. Pearl has actually grown up locally and has been close with her cousin since chi ...more
Aug 20, 2013 Terri rated it really liked it
National Book Award nominee, "Dark Water" by Laura McNeal, has been on my "to read" list for some time. I finally got to it and am glad I did. I think I have students who would be a good audience for this book. I am always looking for strong reads for my Hispanic students, and this would fit the bill, but the book really has something for most teens.

After her parents' bitter divorce, Pearl DeWitt and her mother are living with Pearl's uncle on his avocado farm in Fallbrook, California. When fift
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 75 76 next »
  • Lockdown
  • Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy
  • Lost in the River of Grass
  • The Summer I Learned to Fly
  • See What I See
  • Her and Me and You
  • Touching Snow
  • The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
  • Indigo Blues
  • The Secret to Lying
  • Picture Perfect
  • The Other Side of Dark
  • A Starless Sky
  • Wish
  • Edges
  • The Life of Glass
  • Stranded
  • Tagged
When she is not writing, Laura McNeal tries to decide if it's better to turn people's socks right side out for them or to wait (no matter how long it takes) for them to see the need themselves. She considers this question in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, the writer Tom McNeal, and two teenage boys who wear a lot of socks.
More about Laura McNeal...

Share This Book

“Amiel was looking at me with the kind of interest that made my mouth dry up. I was Braille and his eyes were fingers.” 5 likes
“Tu' eres de dos mundos."
He was wrong, of course. You can only belong to one world at a time.”
More quotes…