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Dark Water

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  763 Ratings  ·  195 Reviews
Fifteen-year-old Pearl DeWitt and her mother live 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 this boy who keeps to himself, fears being caught ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 16, 2011 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Ashley B.
Jun 17, 2011 Ashley B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ellz Readz
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
Feb 06, 2011 Kayla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
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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  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 27, 2012 Demo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
May 21, 2011 Rosanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, very sad, not a love story despite what the blurb says!
Jan 08, 2017 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Dark water is an interesting book written by Laura McNeal. The setting of the book is in California. The main characters of the book are a fifteen year old Pearl, her mother and father, her uncle Hoyt and a Mexican immigrant named Amiel. Pearl is a sophomore in high school who lives only with her mom because her dad lives in Arizona for “working purposes”. Her father used to go visit her and her mother monthly until one day he decided not to visit them anymore, he didn’t gave them money anymore
The Rusty Key
Aug 31, 2011 The Rusty Key rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed by Rusty Key Writer: Jordan B. Nielsen

Recommended for: Ages 15 and Up for mild teen sexuality. The female main character and romantic plot line will likely make this work best suited to young women.

One Word Summary: Ferocious.

This is a moment in which my disdain for hyperbole and exclamation marks hinders me, because Laura McNeal’s Dark Water is one of those shout from the rooftops kind of books. It’s a work that makes excellence look so simple and effortless you wonder why everyone c
Isabelle Ley
I didn't really like this book. It just was not for me.
Jasanah Wilson
Jun 17, 2011 Jasanah Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review of Dark Water

Recently, I just finished Dark Water by Laura McNeal. The book is about a 15 year-old girl name Pearl Dewitt and her mother who live in Fallbrook California. There, it is sunny for 360 days a year. Pearl really doesn't pay attention to her uncle until Amiel comes around. When Pearl saw Amiel for the first time, she was drawn to this boy who stayed to himself. Then, she notices that he doesn't talk. After a while Pearl had a friendship that turned into a forbidden
Jayna Gathers
Jun 17, 2011 Jayna Gathers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book is dark water. the author of this book Laura Mc Neal. it's about this girl named pearl who lives n fallbrook, california.This book talks about romance and a girl trying to find her true love. her true love is this guy named Amiel she also have two differnt color eyes one is brown and one is blue and through her eyes she see differnt things through her eyes. spme evidence that show tha her eyes arre difffernt colors are in the first chapter she explains " one i
Joshua L.
Jun 17, 2011 Joshua L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The book, Dark Water by Laura McNeal is the most amazing book that I have ever read. This book is the first detailed and complicated text that I have read. The book talks about how the events of the wildfire in the town of Fallbrook, California affected a town and a girl’s life. The book has some romantic events, but it talks about how the main character, Pearl, describes the habits of a teenage boy, Amiel, who is looking for a job. Pearl has a crush on Amiel and tries to get to kno
Tania W
Jun 17, 2011 Tania W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark Water by Laura McNeal, romantic drama about a girl that live in Fallbrook, California were it is sunny most of the time during the year. Pearl, the main character, has to make a hard decision between her family and the immigrant boyfriend that she wishes to have one day. Her choice would fall upon the life or death of her love ones, she quickly learns that love would make you do many crazy things. She has to learn to be responsible and smart about the choices that she makes, on
Aashna Singh
Feb 26, 2015 Aashna Singh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 20, 2013 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Writer of things for and about the naively hopeful
More about Laura McNeal...

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“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.”
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