Dark Water

Finalist, National Book Awards 2010 for Young People's Literature

Laura McNeal's Dark Water book cover
ISBN 9780375849732
Alfred A. Knopf
Laura McNeal

Laura McNeal holds an MA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and is the author of Dark Water, a 2010 Finalist for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, and You Can’t Leave Me Now: Three Stories of True Crime. More about this author >

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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.