Lisa Doucet Reviews Waiting Under Water

A thoughtful look at friendship and small-town life.

Twelve-year-old Hope is doing her best to accept the inevitable: she and her family will be moving to Ontario at the end of the summer because of her father’s new job. Hope knows that her parents don’t want to leave their home in St. David’s, New Brunswick, either, but they all have to embrace the change.   

She genuinely tries to savour and enjoy every moment of her last summer in the place she loves. Then St. David’s is chosen as one of five small towns to appear on a national television show as “Canada’s Tiniest Treasures.”  

Hope and her best friend Willa work tirelessly to win the contest that will select one of these five as the unltimate Canadian Tiny Treasure. As she pours her heart and soul into capturing what makes St. David’s uniquely wonderful, she tries to imagine who she will be, and how she will survive, when she has to start all over somewhere new.  

In her first novel for young readers, Riel Nason has created a believable protagonist and heartwarming celebration of place. Hope’s apprehension about having to leave behind her friends, and everything she holds dear about her home, is realistcally portrayed, and her fears are very relatable. Will she be able to make new friends in Ontario?  Will Willa forget about her once she’s gone? Will people at her new school make fun of her for her Transient Vocal Tic disorder?   

The first-person narration perfectly captures Hope’s voice, thoughts and worries in a realistic and sensitive way. The entire cast of characters are similarly authentic and engaging, with Hope’s parents emerging as sympathetic and understanding of how difficult this is for her.   

Nason is particularly adept at capturing a sense of place in this story and all the ways in which St. David’s is special for Hope. This is a slow-paced, introspective and earnest middle-grade tale, a perfect summer read and a thoughtful look at friendship and small-town life. 


(Ages 9-12)

Written By

Lisa Doucet is the co-manager of Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax. She shares her passion for children’s and young adult books as our young readers editor and book reviewer.

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