A Book Review: Not a Drop to Drink

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, and outside influences.


Title: Not a Drop to Drink

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Copyright Date: 2013

Over the past several months I have been working in collaboration with some of my colleagues to map out our first ever whole-school read in the Freshman Academy. I have been zealously searching for the best materials and novels to use as a common experience to usher in the new freshman class next year. This is a trend that is becoming popular among universities and secondary schools and the idea behind the common school read is fostering a community of readers throughout the student body and faculty as well.

One of the biggest decisions when planning out a novel study that involves so many people is the choice of novel. We set out to discover a novel that the students would enjoy, be able to relate to, and that communicates a coming-of-age message with which they could sympathize. I turned to the school librarian for wisdom as she is an amazing resource. Our school has a Battle of the Books group which she advises and they travel and compete against other schools in their knowledge of prescribed books. Recently, this club had read Not a Drop to Drink and the students really enjoyed this book. She recommended that I take a look at the novel and see what I thought about using that as the subject material for the whole school read.

One thing I loved about the book from the beginning was that the author is from relatively near to where I live and specifically mentions the area where I live within the first five pages of the novel. That’s one thing that I thought may help to draw in some of the students especially because of the post-apocalyptic nature of the book. From the beginning of the book I wanted to know what happens to South Bloomfield!?!

Not a Drop to Drink is about a girl named Lynn and her mother, Lauren. There is a shortage of water in their post-apocalyptic world, but Lynn and her mother have their very own pond. Their lives are spent protecting their pond, house, and water source at all costs. I particularly love the opening line of the novel:

“Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared swoop in for a drink.” (McGinnis 1)

In the beginning, Lynn is used to a life of doing whatever it takes to survive. Her knowledge of life beyond the boundaries of her property are limited to the few trips she’s taken for wood and looting already empty homes. Her mother has taught her all she needs to know about survival and never hesitates to extinguish whatever life form threatens the security of the life she has worked so hard to build for her daughter.

After a series of emotional events Lynn is left questioning the only life she has ever known. She learns her own limitations and the value of trust. Also, amidst her circumstances she begins to see the value in others as they face the same struggle as she: survival.

I must admit that I can foresee my students falling in love with this novel. Some of the messages it conveys are ones that are hot topics in Young Adult media culture right now like: Is it ever okay to kill? Should the government control water sources? How can we preserve water in a world with a booming population?

It’s hard to say much more about this novel without giving away the premise. There are many plot twists and surprising scenes and you should read for yourself to see how things end up for Lynn in her quest to protect the things in life that mean the most to her. I look forward to reading the sequel, In a Handful of Dust because Mindy McGinnis has me hooked to the characters and world she has so carefully created.

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