FAMILY TRAVEL FRIDAY
Destination: Italy (14th Century)
Book: Waterfall, the River of Time triology by by Lisa T. Bergren (Young Adult)
By Jennifer Close
Imagine finding a portal that takes you back to 14th century Italy where you are immediately immersed in a battle between gallant knights and their fierce enemies. This is exactly what happened to modern day teenager, Gabriella, when she and her sister were exploring where they weren’t supposed to be in Waterfall, the first book of the River of Time trilogy by Lisa T. Bergren.
Awhile back, I was at home sick and trying to find something new to put on my eReader when I saw the first book of the series was on special and free for download. After teaching high school for years, I love Young Adult fiction so of course I downloaded it. I was hooked after the first chapter and finished the book in less than a day.
Gabriella realizes that she did in fact travel back in time and she also realizes that she lost her sister in the process. She embarks on a journey to locate her sister but at the same time discovers not only a little bit more of herself but she also finds love. What I liked most about Gabriella was that she is a strong female character. She has all the typical characteristics of a teenage girl swooning over a boy (a mighty fine looking one at that!) but at the same time she is confident, strong-willed, and resourceful when it comes to finding her way around an Italy of the past. She can appreciate a beautiful gown one minute and can wield a sword the next. Every once in awhile, I felt like it was a little far-fetched that Gabi, for the most part, fit in to the 14th century so quickly and easily but it is a book about time travel after all!
Italy has never really been high on the list of countries that I want to visit even though some of my favorite books are set there. A few years ago, we went to Germany and Austria to see as many Christmas Markets as we could during a two week period…ok, as many Christmas Markets as I could see! We were based in Garmisch, Germany just a few hours north of Italy so we had planned a quick day trip over the Italian border but had to cancel it due to weather. It didn’t really bother me too much. But after reading about Gabi’s adventures, I think I am ready to plan a trip to Italy now and learn more about the history of the country.
“But the Fonte Gaia of Siena, a simple rectangle, ornately carved of marble, did not demand undue attention. It allowed the public square itself to sing, like a box seat in the best part of a stadium,” says Gabi. After reading this description of the Gaia Fountain, I hopped online to see pictures of it. What an interesting fountain it is! The Gaia Fountain, or Fountain of Joy, is a rectangular shaped basin that has three sides adorned with reliefs and is surrounded by an iron fence. I can only imagine what Gaia Fountain looked like to Gabi as she looked at it shortly after its construction without that fence surrounding it.
This series does fall under the Christian fiction category as Gabi struggles with her faith and her responsibilities to her family. It is subtle so if you are not used to reading Christian fiction it isn’t in your face. As a mother and former teacher who would share this book with teenagers, I liked that it was a good clean romance with nothing too racy. This book may also get your teenager thinking about the possibility of travel to Italy.
For me, the worst part about this book was when it ended. It was a fun young adult read that left me wanting more and I enjoyed the second two books, Cascade and Torrent, just as much as the first. I can only hope that Ms. Bergren decides to continue Gabi’s story.
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Now it is the Reader’s turn: If you have teens in the family–do you think that books about foreign places might persuade them to travel? When you were younger what books influenced your wanderlust?
And perhaps most important of all, what can we say to persuade Jennifer that she MUST go to Italy??