Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis.
Page Count: 320.
Published: September 24, 2013.
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books.
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.
Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.
Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.
But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….
With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.
Someone please give me Mindy McGinnis' next book. Now. Because Not a Drop to Drink was utterly fantastic. I can't sing its praises enough. Aside from a moment during the ending that I'm still not sure how I feel about, I absolutely loved this novel. Loved. McGinnis' look at a world that could one day be ours is well-written, has excellent characters, and, best of all, feels downright real.
One thing I really admire about McGinnis is that she doesn't worry about holding her readers' hands or making sure they're okay throughout the novel. This book is raw, rough, and really gets kind of painful! The landscape is bleak, the main character, Lynn, is tough and I was absolutely sucked into this world. It is clear from the opening scene how difficult life is for Lynn and her mother, as well as for all the poor suckers who happen to get too close to their pond. McGinnis doesn't take pity on any of her characters, putting them through challenges that are very fitting for the state of their world and not giving them an easy out. Lynn faces some really difficult times, especially because she's not perfect and her mistakes have more severe consequences than they would if she were living a normal life. She also faces life or death decisions with results that vary and, honestly, that shocked me at times.
I really adored the characters McGinnis has created. They truly drive this novel and aside from what I see as a small blip at the end, are wonderfully real and true. Right from the beginning McGinnis shows us who Lynn is and how she got to be that way. Lynn begins as a strong, take-no-prisoners protector of her land and her pond, which is how she was raised by her single mother. As her range of experiences expands, she resists change at first but later really begins to grow as a character and adapt to the new circumstances she finds herself in. However, despite her personal growth, she still remains a tough and occasionally rather cold girl just trying to survive in this unfriendly environment, just with a wider range of emotions. Which sounds a little ridiculous, but it totally works for her character.
While Lynn and her mother are the gritty characters, there is a small collection of other characters that truly make the novel what it is. Their elusive (at first) neighbour, Stebbs; a little girl struggling to survive, Lucy; and Lucy's young uncle from the city, Eli, with whom Lynn has a romance that is endearing and honest, but not overwhelming to the story. These characters are all extremely likeable, which I think in a way balances out how Lynn can sometimes come across as too harsh. In addition, each of these other characters not only plays a large role in the plot, but also helps make Lynn into the young woman she grows into by the end of the novel. They each possess a quality that Lynn herself either just doesn't have or never had the opportunity to develop because of her upbringing, and with their presence they expose her to some of the little things that she has never really had in her life.
Even though, as I mentioned, there was an incident at the end that I still don't know how to react to, I thought the epilogue McGinnis included was excellent and it helped keep that one incident from leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
I truly can't justify not giving this book 5 stars.