Pretty and ambitions sixteen-year-old May Lynn Baxter, a girl who dreamt of going to Hollywood and becoming a movie star, is dead. Her bloated body is found in the river, hands and feet bound by wire, weighed down by a Singer sewing machine. Nobody seems to care. Not her drunkard father, not drunkard Constable Higgins, not the drunkard men who find her and want to push her body back in the water so as not to have their fishing interrupted, or stinking up the back of their trucks bringing her to town, and not the preacher who hurried up the service like he was “taking out the trash”. The only ones who care are her three friends; Sue Ellen, Jinx, and Terry. Together the trio decide to investigate her death, because nobody else is.
Edge of Dark Water (Mulholland Books) is set in a small depression era back wood town in East Texas, a place nobody leaves but everyone wants to. Sixteen-year-old Sue Ellen is the narrator, a girl whose fear is growing up to marry a drunkard like her mama did, and getting beat at least once a week like all the rest of the adult women she knows. Sue Ellen quickly develops her theories about her friend’s death, that maybe she got picked up hitching a ride into town to see a picture show by an angry Singer sewing machine salesman.
Soon the kids get the crazy idea that they should dig up May Lynn, burn her body with all her movie star magazines, and bring her ashes to Hollywood. When they happen upon her diary, they discover a clue as to what might have happened to her and their plan is set in motion. Together they embark on a perilous journey down the river on a raft.
Edge of Dark Water is a dark tale of loss and despair, of growing up dirt poor, where adults are mean and children are worthless inconveniences. The story is taunt and laced with humor with beautiful prose–writing that’s as smooth and deep as the river that flows through town. What I really loved about this book is how I got so caught up in it. The Edge of Dark Water is an impressive, riveting story that I devoured quickly and completely enjoyed every minute of. Loved it.