Parched

by Melanie Crowder

A compelling survival story is set in a future unsettled by global warming. Sarel... read more

A compelling survival story is set in a future unsettled by global warming. Sarel lives in the desert on a small homestead. Her family's well still draws water, but the nearby river has run dry. They survive by growing desert-hardy plants. When a gang in search of water attacks, they don't find the cleverly hidden well or Sarel, but Sarel's parents are killed, the house burned, the garden destroyed. In the city, Musa is being held by the Tandie gang for his skills as a dowser. Musa escapes on a water-hunting trip, fleeing into the desert. In his fevered wanderings, Musa follows the hum in his head that means water. Sarel walks miles every day in hopes of finding plants to restart the garden, but when the well shows signs of drying up she knows it's time to leave. Alternating chapters follow each of the children's stories, with interludes from the point of view of Nandi, the lead dog of Sarel's family pack, who knows that the boy who can find water is on his way. When weakened Musa stumbles onto Sarel's homestead, Sarel resentfully helps him, delaying her departure. She doesn't want to tell him her plans, just as Musa doesn't want to share knowledge of his gift, or the water he can sense somewhere near. Melanie Crowder's debut novel is a harrowing but ultimately hopeful story, beautifully told. Finding the courage to trust each other is almost impossible after what Sarel and Musa have experienced, but it's no different from water: essential to their survival. (Ages 9-13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

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