Batty About Books presents
Not a Drop to Drink
by Mindy McGinnis
by Mindy McGinnis
Part One - pgs 1-95
Part Two - pgs 96-195
Part Three - pgs 196 - end
Part one was a super fast read that left me with many questions. We met 16-year-old Lynn and her mother, Lauren. They live alone and will do anything, even kill, to guard their only source of water, the diminishing pond in their backyard. They have a not-so-distant neighbor, Stebbs, who guards his own mysterious water source and they never talk to him. Lynn and Lauren are threatened by coyotes and a gang of men. Should they stay or travel to the unknown south?
Here are my thoughts on the first third of Not a Drop. Some of Maria's responses are here but you can read her complete thoughts over at Maria's Melange. She really went deep into this first part! She even tells us how to purify water!
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Part One - pgs 1 - 95
“Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond...” 1
Mother and Lynn
Lynn has never known any life beyond her and her mother and defending their castle and she never wants to leave. (9) Mother, on the other hand, makes several entreaties for them to abandon the house and set out to possibly make a better life. “Things have changed...so we change with them.” (14) “Stupid to store up the wood to die warm and starving.” (14) I can see why Lynn doesn't want to go - this is her world. But why doesn't Lauren force the issue? We know they only talk when necessary. How did it come to this?
Maria: I assumed that her mother is unsure that it’s the right choice. Maybe she keeps putting it off because she’s been waiting until Lynn is older and better able to defend herself…. just in case? I think she’s getting ready now because she feels like that moment has arrived.
Their rifles are like a part of them. They pretty much always have them, even though they collect weapons from intruders, they stick to their favorites.
“Lynn pulled her own rifle into her lap, the cold metal bringing more comfort to her than her mother’s touch ever could...hugging it tight in the life-taking embrace she’d learned so long ago...the crack of the rifle a relief.” (4)
Such a dichotomy here. When I think of guns I don’t think of comfort or relief. I also love the contrast - life-taking embrace - the conflict in this phrase rebounds over and over in my head and I keep coming back to it. What does this relationship with their weapons say about Lynn and Lauren? Does it say anything about them or does it talk more to their relationship, or lack thereof, with the outside world?
Maria: Excellent quote selection! I found the dichotomy to be one of the things that made me understand just how desperate the world has become. Mom seems so literate - so much like someone who would have been generous and helpful to those around her in the world before.
Lynn has never gone to school, never had friend outside of her Mother. She’s only once heard another person speak; their neighbor, Stebbs, because she remembers her mother treating him for gangrene around when she was six. He was the “one other person she could name in the world” (55) “Stebbs was proof that not everyone would attack them...” (63) His handkerchief was “...the only element...that had ever spoken of hope...” (63) He has a quiet sense of humor and proves to be very helpful later. “I think we are in danger of becoming friends.” (82)
Maria: I can’t even begin to imagine how hard Lynn’s mother must have had it when Lynn was little. I identified so strongly with her mother in the first chunk of this section! I’m thankful for Stebbs, because his quiet strength and the little bits of humor he has revealed so far help ease some of my anxiety as I read the book.
The Rest of the Story
There’s a lot I want to say here but I’m trying to avoid spoilers, at least for now. I wonder how they had clothes for Lynn as she got older? She mentions the attic having different sizes where she would go “shopping” and also put her outgrown clothes. Why did mother think it necessary to keep the old clothes? Fuel? What happened that mother didn't like men? Where was Lynn’s father? Why didn't they join forces with Stebbs?
Maria: I agree! I wondered about the clothes as well. Maybe the house (which seems large) was a family home… and the clothes belonged to another relative? Maybe they were even mom’s clothes as a girl? Or maybe they were from scavenging raids on the other places in the area? All of these questions, and more, intrigued me!
There are portions of the story that remind me of Alabama Moon by Watt Key (survival) and Pathfinder by Eoin Colfer (passing down wisdom) and I wonder what Mindy McGinnis’s influences were as she was writing this story. I look forward to reading part 2, pgs 96 - 195.
Maria: I haven’t read either of those, I’ll have to check them out!