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Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,118 ratings  ·  231 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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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  1,118 ratings  ·  231 reviews

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Mar 30, 2010 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 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
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very fast and fascinating read! I loved the blending of genres and that it was written in verse. However, something was missing for me to give it a 5... maybe that it just ended - it didn't leave me with anything new. Still a worthwhile read in the end.
Janet Martin
Nicely written and performed but predictable, not just the disaster, but the characters. Definitely more appealing for YA than adult readers
Mrs. S
Jan 03, 2013 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 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 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, 2010, ya
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 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 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 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
Dec 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Guadalupe McCall
Jan 03, 2010 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
Apr 10, 2010 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!
Amy White
Nov 30, 2009 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 20, 2011 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
Lindsay Eland
Nov 29, 2009 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!
Irene Latham
Sep 18, 2009 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 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!
Renatta Jacob
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
The books starts off with romance between a wealthy girl named Celestia and low classed Peter. The only problem between the two is Celestia's parents do not approve the feelings because of how low classed Peter is. They are so disappointed in her, and the only thought that goes in their head is how bad of a daughter she is. But just as soon as they find out that news, they also hear that the oldest daughter Estrella who is engaged is already pregnant. They are extremely outraged and they force h ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a very enjoyable read. The characters were easy to connect with and their stories were all so unique. There are five narrators in total throughout this novel: Celestia, Peter, Kate, Whitcomb, and Maura. At first, I was afraid having multiple narrators would become confusing. However, the author breaks the novel into sections underneath each characters name to ensure the reader is not lost. By the end of the book, I ended up loving the multiple narrators and I think five was the per ...more
Monica Tolva
Read p. 6: Peter's father says, "It's unnatural - lakes weren't meant to be ...everyone in Johnstown kids each other about the dam breaking."
Peter takes a summer job at the lake's clubhouse and so gets a clear view of those rich people who come for fishing and hunting and showing off their wealth. The view he does enjoy, is the beautiful, young, white-dressed form reading her book by the lake.
Peter and Celestia's summer romance goes against all social customs of the 1880s, and so they must kee
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the 1800's class systems were clear. The wealthy had it good at their clubhouses, parties, and more. Celestia comes from a family where it is clear that she is meant to marry within her class. Peter is the hotel's hired boy, barely seen or considered by the hotel clientele. But Celestia's desire for peace and quiet as she reads and Peter's desire to fish causes these paths to mix and mingle. So it is that this love affair takes place with the backdrop of the single, tragic day in May 1889 in ...more
I'm interested in history. A podcast appeared last week on my feed about the Johnston Flood so I thought it was remarkably coincidental when the librarian asked me to check this book out.

It's narrative poetry told from several points of view. I'm not really fond of narrative poetry but my students enjoy it because it's nonintimidating with lots of whitespace on the page.

I'm not sure how much they understand at this age about class and dating outside one's class, especially in Victorian America.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Celestia and Peter, two young people from different tiers of society, fall in love at a resort town in Pennsylvania. Teenager Maura makes a cozy home for her growing family and her train engineer husband. Nurse Kate is dedicated completely to her job and knows she'll never fit in, really. Disparate stories merge on the day the dam breaks and lets 20 million tons of water down into the Johnstown basin and changes life forever. Compelling stories and characters set against the backdrop of a terrib ...more
Rebekah Palmer
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ever since I have read Lisa Ann Sandell, Meg Kearney, Helen Frost, and Marilyn Nelson, I have loved the novel in lyrics. Three Rivers Rising's use of poetry in multiple character perspectives was a wonderful way to really catch the humanity and pathos of historical events of the 19th century.

I especially enjoyed the author's notes in the back on her initial interest in the Johnstown Flood and her explanation of her writing process. I loved how the seemingly minor characters of Maura and Kate in
Ashley Long
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the stories of several characters interwoven throughout this book. In fact, although based on true events, each character’s life is what had me going throughout the entire book. I now want more history on this flood and Jame Richards leaves the reader with several options to look into.
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
copyright: 2010
genre: poetry
themes: disaster, loss, perseverance
My favorite part of this novel is the strength that all of the characters display, I cannot imagine going through such extraordinary loss like that and still press on and show kindness.
I would have this book as an option in my library and maybe use it to teach about class and how disaster affects everyone.
Anna Smith
Mar 07, 2020 rated it liked it
I was pretty sure I was going to dnf this one based on the first chapter, but it actually ended up ok in the end. The writing style is hard to get used to, but the story is fascinating and it made me want to learn more about the flood.
Johnstown, Pennsylvania May 1889,
Poetry abounds,
Bonds of love and society
Waters break the dam.
Some bonds are broken, too.
Others are redrawn.
The flood is the
For adventure, romance,
And drama.
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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…