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The Town That Drowned

The Town That Drowned

280 pages
Published:   September 30, 2011
Fiction  /  Novels
Paperback:   9780864926401    $19.95

Winner, Commonwealth Book Prize, Canada and Europe, Frye Academy Award, and Margaret and John Savage First Book Award
Shortlisted, CLA Young Adult Book Award, Red Maple Award, and University of Canberra Book of the Year
Longlisted, IMPAC Dublin Award

Living with a weird brother in a small town can be tough enough. Having a spectacular fall through the ice at a skating party and nearly drowning are grounds for embarrassment. But having a vision and narrating it to the assembled crowd solidifies your status as an outcast.

What Ruby Carson saw during that fateful day was her entire town — buildings and people — floating underwater. Then an orange-tipped surveyor stake turns up in a farmer's field. Another is found in the cemetery. A man with surveying equipment is spotted eating lunch near Pokiok Falls. The residents of Haverton soon discover that a massive dam is being constructed and that most of their homes will be swallowed by the rising water. Suspicions mount, tempers flare, and secrets are revealed. As the town prepares for its own demise, 14-year-old Ruby Carson sees it all from a front-row seat.

Set in the 1960s, The Town That Drowned evokes the awkwardness of childhood, the thrill of first love, and the importance of having a place to call home. Deftly written in a deceptively unassuming style, Nason's keen insights into human nature and the depth of human attachment to place make this novel ripple in an amber tension of light and shadow.
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Riel Nason is a writer and textile artist. She is the author of three novels, one for middle-grade readers; a children’s picture book; and two books on quilting. The Town That Drowned was her debut novel. It won the Commonwealth Book Prize for Canada and Europe and the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. She lives in Quispamsis, New Brunswick.


Winner: Commonwealth Book Prize, Canada and Europe
Winner: Margaret and John Savage First Book Award
Shortlisted: CLA Young Adult Book Award
Longlisted: IMPAC Dublin Award
Shortlisted: Red Maple Award
Winner: Frye Academy Award
Shortlisted: University of Canberra Book of the Year


"[A] captivating debut novel ... many flashes of clever humour and felicitous, well-paced storytelling that keeps you engaged throughout." — National Post

"Charming, wry, and believable ... Nason has a particular gift for introducing supporting characters with memorable anecdotes, each of which reads like a sparkling little gem of a short story ... Ruby's voice, vibrating with contradictory desires, [delivers] shot-to-the-heart moments of real humour and pathos." — Quill & Quire

"If her debut novel, The Town That Drowned, is any indication, Riel Nason is a writer to watch. This tender tale about a New Brunswick village threatened by the provincial government's plan to build a dam has a ton of soul." — NOW Magazine

"Riel Nason's debut novel establishes her as a writer with a bright future ... Nason's writing is warm and empathetic. She has a lovely ear for dialogue and her townspeople are well drawn. She also does a terrific job capturing the feel of a 1960s rural New Brunswick." — Chronicle Herald

"The writing is finely polished, the locale evocative, and her dialogue rings true. In Ruby, she nails the voice of youth." — Maple Tree Literary Supplement

"An impressive first novel." — Winnipeg Review

"The Town That Drowned is not easily forgotten." — Scene Magazine

"Nason writes with a keen logic and with the kind of wisdom that comes from an astute understanding of what it is to be human. It is a gift, and Nason brings this gift to the book's protagonist fourteen-year-old Ruby Carson ... From the smell of hot chocolate when Ruby regains consciousness from her fall, to the Nesbitt's Orange pop bottle sealed with canning wax, Nason imbues every scene with sensory delight. But anything of the quaint or peculiarly local in this book takes a back seat to the voice of Ruby Carson. She is one of a kind." — Malahat Review

"Fantastic ... I had such an emotional reaction ... The ending is so hopeful and uplifting. Highly recommended." —

"This is a lighthearted and well-written book that I would recommend to anyone." — Record

"[T]his is a vivid, intimate novel that works equally well for adult and young-adult readers. ... Nason's genius in this novel is not just to tell an important historical story that needed to be told but to find exactly the right perspective from which to tell it. ... The Town That Drowned is a warm, intimate story in which every character feels as real as someone you might meet on the street." — Compulsive Overreader

"This is a richly detailed journey through a young woman's perspective, and the story flows like a gentle river as the reader watches a catastrophe unfold in slow motion. ... It's haunting and memorable, and simply a lovely read." — Amy's Marathon of Books

"I loved it. It's Canadian historical fiction with a tiny touch of the paranormal." — 2012 Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award judge

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