Dark Water Rising

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
November/December 2007

By Marian Hale, Reviewed by Adiel Schmidt

Dark Water Rising book cover

Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale; Henry
Holt Books for Young Readers: New York,
2006; $16.95

Do you know somebody who survived a natural disaster or a big storm? Well, I don’t, but when I read Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale, I felt like I had survived a natural disaster, the Galveston storm of 1900. Marian Hale takes you right into the life of 16- (almost iv-) year-old Seth.

This book was very intriguing, especially for someone like me who doesn’t like straight-out history, but enjoys historical fiction. Before reading this book, I knew about major cities in Texas, but I had never even heard of Galveston or of the storm that took place there in 1900.

Seth wants to fulfill his dream and become a builder like his father, but Seth’s father has different plans for Seth. He wants Seth to become a doctor. This is one of the reasons why Seth and his family, in the beginning of the book, move to Galveston. I’m not as old as Seth so I don’t really work yet, but I’ve had experiences like his. For example, I used to play piano and liked it, but when my brother started playing drums, I also wanted to play drums. My parents just ignored me and kept on signing me up for piano. Eventually, I ended up quitting piano, and now I don’t play any instruments. Seth is similar to me in a way because his parents think they are doing what’s best for him, but he really wants to do something else.

While reading this book, I was surprised at how badly black people were treated during this time period. Seth has barely seen black people and treats an old black man named Ezra like a slave. He later becomes good friends with Ezra’s grandson, Josiah, when they have to survive together in a storm. In an early scene, Seth’s dad comments that black people aren’t as good as white people. I really disagree with this and I’m appalled at this behavior, but I live in a more modern time period than Seth.

Once Seth and his family are moved into their house, Seth’s uncle finds a summer building job for Seth. Seth is overjoyed because he thinks that if he does a good job for his boss, his dad might let him become a builder instead of a doctor. Josiah also works for the same person as Seth. One day a big storm is forecast for Galveston, but Seth still goes to work that day He and Josiah (who lives with Seth’s aunt and uncle) end up almost swimming home because there is so much water in the streets. When Seth and Josiah end up relying on each other for survival, Seth really changes his views about black people. This affected me personally because I have friends who are black and this was Seth’s first realization that blacks weren’t much different from whites.

Throughout the book, the relationship between Seth and his dad is constantly changing. After Seth survives the storm, Seth’s dad (in my opinion) views Seth as an adult who can make his own decisions. Seth’s dad also sees that Seth is a good builder, and tells Seth that he doesn’t have to become a doctor.

I highly recommend this book to all people who would enjoy a short read about a relationship between a father and a son that will teach them history and a lesson about friendship.

Dark Water Rising Adiel Schmidt

Adiel Schmidt, 12
New York, New York

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