Thursday, October 10, 2013
Parched, by Melanie Crowder
And there is a story. This upper-MG literary novel is told from three POVs --a boy, a girl, and a dog -- and takes place in a land that might be Africa, might be the US, might be now, might be future. The setting is specifically drawn yet unnamed, and I find that so suited to the subject matter. Because this is a book about a land without fresh water, and to that problem no land is immune. Sarel is the girl who witnesses her parents' murder because her family had a hidden well. Musa is the boy with a gift for dowsing, who has escaped the gang that kidnapped him. Nandi is Sarel's dog, whose narrative opens and closes the book, and that dog's voice had me in four short sentences. These three must find water or die trying. And the relentless thirst, the feel of their throats, the caked dirt they have no hope of washing off, makes you feel like you're there with them.
At times, the book is almost too grim to bear (the fact that it's short helps). For that reason, I think upper MG definitely fits, although I don't consider it YA (as some have called it, and as my public library system has labeled it), and very sensitive kids might be better off waiting a while. For most anyone else, I would recommend picking up this stunning book and giving it a try.