The Town That Drowned

Paperback | September 23, 2011

byRiel Nason

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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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From the Publisher

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 to...

From the Jacket

Living with an eccentric little brother can be tough. Falling through the ice at a skating party and nearly drowning are grounds for embarrassment. But having a vision and narrating it to assembled onlookers? That solidifies your status as an outcast. What Ruby Carson saw during that fateful hallucination was her entire hometown — hous...

Riel Nason writes about antiques and collectibles for the daily Telegraph-Journal. Her short stories have appeared in The Malahat Review, The Antigonish Review, Grain, and The Dalhousie Review. The Town That Drowned is her sensational debut novel.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:280 pages, 8.5 × 5.47 × 0.71 inPublished:September 23, 2011Publisher:Goose Lane EditionsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0864926405

ISBN - 13:9780864926401

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Town That Drowned Having grown up in a small village in New Brunwick in the 60's, I really related to this book. I remember them buying up the land and building the Mactaquac Dam and all the problems that incurred afterward and are still ongoing today. This book was riveting for me and it gives a good insight into what life was like in rural New Brunswick during that time. If you would like to step back in time, remember what it was like to grow up during a period that was just starting to churn and change the times and the face of humanity, I highly recommend this book. The characters are wonderful and truly interesting. I could relate to both brother and sister because I often felt an outcast at the time and realize now it was just the angst of being a teenager while there is good reason for both of them to feel like outcasts and I would not say it was just teenage angst. This was written from the perspective of a young girl who is 14 when the story begins and 16 when it ends but in no way is geared towards just the teenage crowd. I loved this book and I'm looking forward to more from Riel Nason. She is well worth reading.
Date published: 2015-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Interesting, relatable, and hard to put down. Great 'Beach Book'! Definitely recommend it.
Date published: 2015-03-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inspired by a real event. It's the mid 1960's in a small town in New Brunswick. Little do the residents know, over the next two years life in their town is going to change in ways they could never have imagined. The entire town lies in the future flood plain of a yet to built dam. Almost everyone will have to move. For most people, they will adapt, but for the Carson family, it will be more of a challenge. Their nine year old son, Percy, is not like the other kids. He sticks to his own strict routine and doesn't accept change. (autism?) Along with worrying about her brother and his quirky behaviour, Ruby has her own issues. Ever since she fell in the river, hitting her head, no one will let her forget the prophetic babbling she uttered. Small towns can be a supportive community where everyone knows everyone else, but it can also seem like a punishment when people continue to rub past events in your face. Ruby is hoping that the forced move will improve her and Percy's lot in life. While the main story line is the flooding of the town, that of Percy, his behaviour and how the towns people respond to him is equally significant in my opinion. The term autism has been used since 1908, though it wasn't until the 1970s that it became more widely know. Keeping this in mind, I shouldn't be too surprised that there was so little understanding/tolerance for Percy. I was younger than Percy at the time this novel was set. I have no memories of politics and how governments worked. In this book, the provincial government is portrayed as paternalistic. No public hearings nor consultations with the affected communities were held. No discussion with the towns people of where they want to located their new town. This lack of consultation led to all sorts of distrust and rumours in the community. I really got the feel of neighbour against neighbour as people tried to cope with their loss. This book should appeal to teens through adults. History lovers will appreciate that the story was inspired by the construction of a dam on the St. John River in the late 1960's. This is a debut novel for author Riel Nason
Date published: 2014-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Town That Drowned I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it is quirky and entertaining. A nice refreshing 'change of pace book' when you're just not sure what you're in the mood to read next.
Date published: 2013-12-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Town That Drowned Good easy read. This book shows us that changes and or loses in life are looked upon differently by different people.
Date published: 2013-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must-Read! I loved everything about this book–simply couldn’t put it down until I turned the final page. A terrific combination of a story that has you dying to see how it all plays out and the development of true-to-life characters. Ruby’s voice and the exploration of her relationship with her brother who, if the story were written today, would likely be on the Autism Spectrum, was particularly insightful. A must-read.
Date published: 2013-06-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Will her vision come true? Or is it just her imagination? Small towns can be hard when you have been branded. Meet Ruby in Haverton, New Brunswick where her (weird) brother has branded her and an incident at the town's skating party will further cast her out from her schoolmates. Change is in the air, but none of the townspeople know what it is until the 4 Horsemen show up. She may have seen the future, but the future is murky like the water of the river that flows past them. Follow Ruby as she partakes in a weird and wonderful adventure where love and loss are along the path of growing up. Recommend.
Date published: 2013-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a quiet story beautifully told In all our years together, my book club has never been joined by the author of our chosen book. This month, as we met to discuss The Town That Drowned, we were fortunate to have the novel’s author, Riel Nason, with us. Riel and one of the members of my book club have known each other since university, so it made sense for Chrissy to choose this book and to invite Riel to join us while we discussed it. The Town That Drowned is Riel’s first novel, but she has honed her skills writing a regular column on antiques and collectibles for the Telegraph Journal, is the author of a collection of short stories, some of which have been published, and blogs about quilting here. For the women who gathered for a discussion of the book, it was a real treat to get the inside scoop on the book’s development. Narrated by 14-year-old Ruby, The Town That Drowned tells the story of what happens to a town when the government decides to build a dam. The narrative of the story is actually based on a true event, as Riel explained at our meeting and on her blog: “In the late 1960s, before my friends and I were born, the area had been flooded when the Mactaquac Dam was built about 15 miles downstream. As a kid, I thought it was all pretty neat information. Lots of great trivia. But, now if we fast forward to just a few years ago when I was possessed with the idea that I-Must-Write-A-Novel, I immediately knew that the flooding would be the background event.” The Town That Drowned is a quiet story. Riel might have even admitted that nothing much happens, but I would disagree. I think Riel actually did a very nice job of capturing rural New Brunswick during the 1960s. My dad grew up just a few clicks further up the river from Riel’s fictional Haventon, in a small town called Perth-Andover and I spent a fair amount of time there as a kid, so I am intimately familiar with towns like that. You know the kind: everyone knows everyone, meaning everyone knows your business and there’s no escape from the town bullies. Ruby observes her neighbours and the events that transpire over the course of a couple of years through remarkably mature eyes. My favourite character in the novel is Ruby’s younger brother, Percy. Although it’s never overtly stated, Percy has Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism. Every time he opens his mouth, he is a delight. “Our mother says we should give you the message of her love,” he says to Mr. Cole – a much loved neighbour – on the occasion of a picnic he and Ruby share with him. Percy thrives on structure and order and routine and the thought that his house might be moved is kept a secret from him for as long as possible. Ruby adores him and is embarrassed by him in equal measure. I just adored him. The Town That Drowned will have special meaning to those readers familiar with the St. John River Valley and those who remember the Mactaquac Dam being built. But even if you aren’t from around here, the story offers up plenty of treasures: first love, the importance of family, and what it means to have a place to call home.
Date published: 2011-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic debut novel! I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Nason's debut novel. The story, set in rural New Brunswick, takes us back forty years in a time of upheaval for families living in the town of Haventon which will be wiped out because of the building of a new dam. Nason does an incredible job of capturing the angst that the residents are feeling through the eyes of 14 year old Ruby Carson. The remaining cast of characters are well developed which leads to a real page turner. Pick this book up, you will not be disappointed.
Date published: 2011-10-30

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Editorial Reviews

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. - 20111017"I loved it. It's Canadian historical fiction with a tiny touch of the paranormal." — 2012 Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award judge - 20160226