Lisa T. Bergren
David Cook, 2011
Oh. Em. Gee. In case you have somehow missed my Waterfall Wednesdays posts, let me catch you up to speed: I have fallen in love with this book. And subsequently, with the River of Time series. True confession: I wasn't able to make myself stretch the read over all five weeks. I finished it quickly, but opted to post the review during the last week of Waterfall Wednesdays, to help build anticipation and intrigue. (PS: If you haven't read them, you really should check out the discussion questions from each week: a whole lot of fun, and definitely made my reading experience a richer one.)
Waterfall is a story that takes your wildest dreams and half-imaginings, and explores what would happen if they really happened. Gabi and Lia, two sisters stuck for the summer in Tuscany (poor kids, I should be so lucky!) as their mother excavates an archeology dig, stumble upon a portal of sorts - seemingly custom-made for them - and find themselves 600 years in the past. Right in the heart of medieval Toscana. Waterfall primarily focuses on Gabi's adventures as she tries to find Lia, because they were slightly separated in the transport. Along the way, Gabi meets knights - like, real knights - and comes face-to-face with the often harsh reality of life in the 1342 Italian countryside. Sienna and Florence are in a battle for dominance, and the lords between the two are on the frontlines. Add to that "normal" inter-family drama and human nature? Oh yes, this is an adventure worth having. Did I mention the very amazing knights? Because Marcello and his cousin Luca are definitely worth the read. Just sayin'.
If you've read the Waterfall Wednesdays posts, you have some idea of the story. Rather than repeat myself, I'd like to turn this review into a sort of reflection - try to tell you just what it is about this book that has captured my attention so wholly. Normally, time travel is kind of weird for me, I'm not going to lie. But in this case, it works. Really, really well. Maybe because my History major self would thoroughly appreciate the opportunity that Gabi and Lia stumble upon. Maybe because Lisa handles it in a way that makes it less weird and/or freaky, while still letting it be fantastic. Or maybe because the story itself is so effective. The characters are compelling (and not just because they're gorgeous! Promise!) and real, they're not perfect but they've got good hearts, and learn from their mistakes and their differences. It's Christian fiction without that overwhelming preachy-ness that occurs sometimes - actually, the "Christian" part is an undercurrent, a thread in the story that helps weave things together without becoming the story. And it's natural-feeling, very realistic.
The pace and setting of the story draw you along, teasing and taunting and getting you entirely engrossed and must. find. out. what. happens! Before I finished reading Waterfall, I had already ordered Cascade (book 2), and made plans to get my hands on Torrent as soon as possible. I must know how this story continues and develops, I've got to find out if Gabi and Marcello ever figure out how to make it work; to discover just what Lady Rossi is hiding behind her pretty face and sweet words; to laugh more at Luca and see if Lia can ever comprehend the draw the Forellis have for Gabi.
These books are amazing. That is all.
Book provided by my personal library.