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Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  894 Ratings  ·  210 Reviews
Sixteen-year-old Celestia vacations 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 superficial cheer and sly judgments of the society crowd, she much prefers to swim and fish with Peter, the hotel’s hired boy. It’s a friendship she must keep secret — her parents would never appr ...more
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Published May 11th 2010 by Brilliance Audio (first published April 13th 2010)
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Jubilation Lee
We’re on the last day of April, friends, which means it is officially my last day to try and fit in “It’s National Poetry Month So Goddammit I Guess I Should Be Reading Books In Verse” books. As the grand finale, I picked up Three Rivers Rising, because if there is one thing Monica likes other than unicorns and folk music, it’s reading about horrific disasters.

Unfortunately, it was… it was not what I was expecting.

There were two problems with this book, my friends, and as I spell them out I want
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
Apr 04, 2010 Kelsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Sep 06, 2011 Khornberger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mrs. S
Jan 03, 2013 Mrs. S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 17, 2010 kari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Steph Su
Apr 29, 2010 Steph Su rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Abby Johnson
Jul 05, 2010 Abby Johnson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 01, 2010 Mariah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was obviously historical, but I really enjoyed it because it was a story of something I had never heard of before, and the story was so heart-breaking that I did not feel that I was learning. The story was fiction but the events were all real.

Celestia was a very like-able character, she fell in love with someone below her class, and decided to follow that love, regardless of what her parents thought. While this was reckless, it shows the strictness of that society, and how very few cou
Margo Brooks
This story is set in the resort at Lake Conemaugh, a mountain reservoir in Pennsylvania that hosted an elite clientele, during the Sumer of 1888 through May 1889. The story revolves around a love affair between a young daughter of a rich business man and the hotel's hired boy and climaxes with the breaking of the Lake Conemaugh dam and flooding of several valley towns, including Johnstown. The flood is a matter of record and commemorated by the Johnstown Flood National Memorial http://www.nps.go ...more
Feb 24, 2014 Alyssa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Amy White
Nov 30, 2009 Amy White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jan 14, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Guadalupe McCall
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
Apr 20, 2011 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Elizabeth G
Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards is about the Johnstown flood. A young boy laborer falls in love with a rich girl and they have secret meeting leading up until the flood. The story is about love having no boundaries. So much was destroyed in flood for both the girl and the boy, and they are in such different social classes.

I did not really like the book because it was very confusing, especially in point of view. "Fire stretches into the blackness, coughing, bare feet blistering, I stumble i
Lindsay Eland
Nov 29, 2009 Lindsay Eland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Saleena Davidson
Feb 05, 2014 Saleena Davidson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three Rivers Rising is a fictional look at the Jamestown Flood in the 1800s. Its in poetry form (which makes for a fun quick read) and alternates to several different characters viewpoints. The main story is a forbidden romance between Celestia (upper-class, wealthy) and Peter (working-class). They meet because Peter works at the summer hotel they are staying in. Their story is juxtaposed with several townspeople and their general lives. Then the flood comes and lives are changed forever. I real ...more
Irene Latham
Sep 18, 2009 Irene Latham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction and written in verse. Wonderful voices and story soared above the historical drama. LOVED! Also written by a fellow Tenner. :)
Jan 08, 2011 Randi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Novel in verse...can't wait to discuss this with the Challenge Book Club students. I love learning history from fiction!
Em Elizabeth
I was drawn to this book because of the topic. I'm a huge history buff. I've heard about the Johnstown Flood in the past and was thrilled to find a story about it. The initial synopsis had me-- apparent romance, fleshing out this overlooked historic event, and what's more, all in VERSE! I adore novels written in verse. They are generally so interesting and beautiful. But this one. Hmm. It was just //okay//. It wasn't great. I didn't like the writing style that much, and all of the characters see ...more
Mar 27, 2015 Yvette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ms. Mulhern Gross
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
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Mar 27, 2011 Sherry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This verse novel tells the story of Celestia and Peter, who meet and fall in love at the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club the summer before the Johnstown Flood. Celestia is the daughter of a wealthy businessman who disapproves of her budding relationship with Peter, the son of a miner and summer employee of the club. After Celestia's sister is disowned and spirited off to Europe following a disastrous affair with a wealthy tycoon, the Whitcombs do everything they can to prevent Celestia from ...more
May 31, 2011 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a word? Wow! This is a story set around the time of the Johnstown flood of 1889. It is less a story about the flood and more a story about the lives and loves of the characters (although the flood scenes were completely riveting). Told in first person, in free verse no less, this is the saga of three families. The main attraction are star-crossed lovers Peter and Celestia, then there is heartbroken nurse Kate, but they are outshined (in my humble opinion) by loving homemaker Maura. Her dialog ...more
Amber Johnson
Aug 05, 2010 Amber Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
I am a sucker for historical fiction. So when I read a few reviews about Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards, I knew I had to get my hands on it. This book is set during the Johnstown Flood of 1889, but keep in mind that it is a novel OF the Johnstown Flood, not a novel ABOUT the Johnstown Flood. This differentiation is what made it an enjoyable read. Well, that and the author's ability to write in verse from the perspective of many different characters, making each one a distinct character.

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“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…