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Dark Water

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  637 ratings  ·  181 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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Mar 16, 2011 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Karen (Book Light Graveyard)
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
Feb 27, 2012 Demo rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
"Dark Water" is touted as a love story revolving around 15-year-old California girl Pearl DeWitt and Amiel, a boy who finds illegal work on her uncle's avocado farm and who has lost his ability to speak.

The story, however, primarily revolves around Pearl's family dynamics, particularly her relationship with her mother and their dealing with her father's abandonment. Very little of consequence occurs between Pearl and Amiel until very late in the book, and the focus on their romance almost as an
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.
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
Beautifully written, very sad, not a love story despite what the blurb says!
Jessie Weaver
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
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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samantha Louise
When I read the blurb on the flap of the just jacket, I expected a "star-crossed lovers" story, about the love between an illegal migrant worker and the avacado farmer's neice. I expected the big climax to be the migrant worker being threatened with being deported. Star-crossed lovers equals my kind of book.

But I was plesantly surprised when the book turned out to be so much more, to the point where saying the book was a romance became sort of misleading. It was about the main character Pearl wa
(edited from a conversation on YA Reads for Adults...where you too can join and I love that this was our guest author selection and Laura McNeal was there to talk with us about her book)

I love the ending so much. It's so hopeful and romantic and uplifting that I was willing to accept that even her cousin's, who is truly much weaker than she, hatred couldn't deter her from the goal of finding Amiel.

I suppose I just see the whole book as being uplifting. I see it as a struggle for a girl to find
This coming of age/young love story is a departure from the usual young adult fare. It utilizes the elemental forces of fire and water to help tell the story, enriching it for the reader by the multiple layers of meaning in the text. There is so much in this book to stimulate the mind of readers: the symbolism of the life-giving role of water, and of the dual nature of fire that simultaneously connotes death but also the opportunity for clear-cutting renewal; the question of what constitutes com ...more
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Laura McNeal is married to the author Tom McNeal, with whom she has written four young adult novels and one picture book. Her solo debut, Dark Water, was a finalist for the National Book Award in Young People's Literature in 2010.
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.” 4 likes
“This time when we kissed, he didn't pull away, and I was close enough to his mouth for him to whisper what the tiny old vaquero had said a long time ago, the part of being of two worlds. "Tu eres de dos mundos." I closed both of my eyes, the blue one and the brown one, so I could be in just one world, his...” 3 likes
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