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I really like books that are real.  And by that, I don’t mean nonfiction or biographies or whatever.  I mean books that show the characters having realistic emotions.  Books where the teenagers don’t talk like they’re fifty years old.  Books where the characters make mistakes and behave realistically (even when that’s not reasonably).  And that’s what we have here.

Finally.  A book about teenagers in which the characters actually act their age.

Aberdeen is going under.  The ground never fully thawed before the spring rains started, so there was nowhere for the water to go.  Homes were destroyed – just washed away with the floods.  The governor is talking about building a dam, relocating the entire town, doing nothing to prevent flooding.  Just letting it happen.

Keeley and her friends have lived in Aberdeen for their entire lives.  Their parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents were born and raised in this small town.  When they hear about the relocation efforts, they don’t really know what to think.  But Keeley’s always been the funny girl, the one who can make light of any situation, the one who makes everybody forget about the bad stuff.  So Keeley feels like she has to keep up that persona.  While her friends are crying, she’s cracking jokes.  She might as well make the most of the time they have left, right?

This attitude causes a lot of problems for Keeley.  Her friends feel like she isn’t taking their problems seriously.  They don’t understand why she’s carrying on like nothing’s changing when literally everything will change in a matter of days.

But her attitude also opens some new doors for her.  Her lifelong crush, Jesse, takes notice.  As one of the biggest jokers in the school, Jesse is known for his pranks and his hilarious videos.  He starts involving Keeley in his plans.  Before long, they’re hanging out one-on-one.  Then they’re dating, sort-of-maybe, in that way that teenagers do.

When I finish reading a book that’s made a big impression on me, I like to scroll through the reviews, both positive and negative, to see what other people thought.  It seems to me that for this book, the overwhelming majority of people who didn’t like it complained about Keeley’s attitude.  It’s funny because that’s one of the things that I liked most about this book.

Keeley’s response to the events in this book could be anybody’s response.  She so clearly does not know how to handle what’s happening that she just defaults to what’s normal for her.  None of these kids have been in this situation before. There’s no handbook for what to do when your town goes underwater. None of them know the right thing to say or do.  They’re all dealing with it in their own way.  I was so happy that these kids acted like kids.  Imagine this book if all these teenagers had known exactly what to say and do – it would have been painfully boring.

I feel like I’ve just done a lot of rambling here about how much I enjoyed this book, but I hope that you’ll take that as a sign that you should read it!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★☆