Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Town That Drowned


The title: The Town that Drowned 
The author: Riel Nason
Publication: Goose Lane, 2011
Got it from: SC, Xmas 2014

The Town That Drowned is a difficult book for me to pin down except to say that I enjoyed it.  I tend to find most Maritime lit to be too weird and depressing for my taste, and despite the fact that this book had a little bit of both, it was still very good.  It's told from the perspective of 15-year-old Ruby Carson and based on the real-life building of the Mactaquac Dam in the 1960s.  Ruby's village of Haventon is being appropriated by the government because it's in the flood plain.  In the book and in real life, the town is literally drowned.  How the townspeople cope with the loss of everything they know is the focus of the story.

I spent my early childhood (and some my adulthood) in a similar village along the Saint John River valley, so this story felt very real to me.  I have driven by that area of the river dozens of times in my life but never knew the story, nor that many of the houses at King's Landing Historical Settlement were from the lost towns.  Even though it's sad, it's also fascinating.  I loved the characters in Ruby's town because they felt so much like neighbours I've grown up with.  Everything felt so familiar to me, including the log cabins, the bonfires, the legion, the farms and of course the river itself.  

Being from the perspective of a teenager, this book had a strong YA flavour.  It is the kind of book I would have loved when I was about 12 or 13, but I love it now in a different way.  The writing never seemed to drag and there was even a romance or two thrown in to make things interesting.  I liked the way the story delved into the different ways people coped psychologically with their impending loss - everything from complete denial to opportunistic adavancement. You definitely don't have to be from NB to enjoy this book, but it sure helps.

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