Patricia Reilly Giff,
Water Street
(Wendy Lamb, 2006)

Water Street is a charming book about New York's Brooklyn in the l800s when modernity in New York was really beginning to develop, with such revelations as the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge that would eventually connect the New York boroughs. It was a flourishing time in New York history.

It is also a coming of age story for its two protagonists, Bird Mallon and Thomas Neary, who develop into fine young adults -- Bird as a healer and then a nurse and Thomas as a writer. Each chapter rotates with a chapter pertaining to Bird and then Thomas, which keeps the story fresh and exciting.

Without revealing too much of the plot, each of the children have their own demons and issues to deal with, and finding each other is the panacea for dealing with them. Each becomes a rock of support for the other.

Judging from the writer's previous books, it seems that her specialty is books for children and teens, but I was impressed with the way this book brought me back to the days of her grandfather and the innocence of pure friendship. This book would appeal to any age.

As a native New Yorker, I do admit that books about New York and its development naturally appeal to me, but this is a read that puts a tear in your eye and smile on your face simultaneously, which nowadays is a real find.

by Risa Duff
9 December 2006

Buy it from