Presenter of the National Book Awards

2010 National Book Award Finalist,
Young People's Literature

Laura McNeal

Dark Water

Alfred A. Knopf


Photo credit: Jeff Lucia

ABOUT THE BOOK

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 by la migra, and is mysteriously unable to talk. And after coming across Amiel’s makeshift hut near Agua Prieta Creek, Pearl falls into a precarious friendship—and a forbidden romance.

Then the wildfires strike. Fallbrook—the town of marigolds and palms, blood oranges and sweet limes—is threatened by the Agua Prieta fire, and a mandatory evacuation order is issued. But Pearl knows that Amiel is in the direct path of the fire, with no one to warn him, no way to get out. Slipping away from safety and her family, Pearl moves toward the dark creek, where the smoke has become air, the air smoke.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura McNeal holds a master’s degree in fiction writing from Syracuse University. She taught middle school and high school English before becoming a novelist and journalist. Together, Laura and her husband, Tom McNeal, are the authors of Crooked, winner of the California Book Award for Juvenile Literature; Zipped, winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Children’s Literature; Crushed; and The Decoding of Lana Morris. The McNeals live in Southern California with their two sons, Sam and Hank.

SUGGESTED LINKS

Laura and Tom McNeal's website
http://mcnealbooks.com/home.aspx

Dark Water's Random House page
www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780375949739

EXCERPT

Excerpted from Dark Water by Laura McNeal Copyright © 2010 by Laura McNeal. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

One

You wouldn't have noticed me before the fire unless you saw that my eyes, like a pair of socks chosen in the dark, don't match. One is blue and the other's brown, a genetic trait called heterochromia that I share with white cats, Catahoula hog dogs, and water buffaloes. My uncle Hoyt used to tell me, when I was little, that it meant I could see fairies and peaceful ghosts.

Then I met Amiel, and for six months it seemed true what he whispered in his damaged voice: Tú eres de dos mundos.

He was wrong, of course. You can only belong to one world at a time.

Now that he's gone, I try to see things when I'm alone. I put one hand over my blue eye, and I look south. With my brown eye I can see all the way to Mexico. I fly over freeways and tile roofs and malls and swimming pools. I cross the Sierra de Juárez Mountains and the Sea of Cortés to the place where Amiel was born, and I find the turquoise house with a red door. There are three chairs on the covered patio: one for him, one for me, and one for Uncle Hoyt. I tell myself the chairs are empty because we're not there yet. I watch for as long as I can and when my eye starts to water, I remove my hand.

Tomorrow, I'll look again.

Excerpted from Dark Water by Laura McNeal Copyright © 2010 by Laura McNeal. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.