My rating: 4 of 5 stars
1888: Elizabeth Haberlin, of the Pittsburgh Haberlins, spends every summer with her family on a beautiful lake in an exclusive club. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains above the working class community of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the private retreat is patronized by society’s elite. Elizabeth summers with Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks, following the rigid etiquette of her class. But Elizabeth is blessed (cursed) with a mind of her own. Case in point: her friendship with Eugene Eggar, a Johnstown steel mill worker. And when Elizabeth discovers that the club’s poorly maintained dam is about to burst and send 20 million tons of water careening down the mountain, she risks all to warn Eugene and the townspeople in the lake’s deadly shadow.
Present day: On her 18th birthday, genetic information from Lee Parker’s closed adoption is unlocked. She also sees an old photograph of a genetic relative—a 19th century woman with hair and eyes likes hers—standing in a pile of rubble from an ecological disaster next to none other than Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Determined to identify the woman in the photo and unearth the mystery of that captured moment, Lee digs into history. Her journey takes her from California to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, from her present financial woes to her past of privilege, from the daily grind to an epic disaster. Once Lee’s heroic DNA is revealed, will she decide to forge a new fate?
But, I'm getting ahead in the story. We are first introduced to the characters in the dual stories, Elizabeth Haberlin a rich young woman who spends the summers by the beautiful lake above the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. She spends the summers rubbing shoulders with the Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks and she seems at first to be just another rich spoiled girl. But, as the story progresses do we learn more and more about her she is actually a very bright, although sheltered girl. And, a disastrous event will change her whole life...
In the present story do we meet Lee Parker, who on her 18th birthday finally learns more about her real mother. She was adopted as a baby and she loves her adopted mother, but she has a need to find out more about where she came from. In her papers is there a photo of her mother, standing in a pile of rubble from a disaster, besides Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. She got curious and decides to find out more about this...
I really liked this book, the class differences that are a large part when it comes to both stories. At first, I found Elizabeth Haberlin a bit hard to connect to, but after a while did she start to grow on me and towards the end did I find myself really liking her. Contrary did I find Lee Parker to be right from the very start a fabulous character, easy to connect with. I also liked how the Jewish lifestyle was a big part of both stories. All and all is this a great book!