This haunting little middle grade novel is set in an apocalyptic near future North America where water is so scarce that gangs have taken over the cities. Musa is kidnapped from his home and forced to look for water. Meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, gangs kill Sarel's entire family and burn down their homestead leaving her with a dwindling well and a pack of adorably loyal dogs.
So, here's the thing. I guess I should have known that dogs + drought + evil gang = animal death. It's kind of inevitable, isn't it? Fortunately the animal death didn't feel emotionally manipulative, like many fictional animal deaths do, so plus points for that.
Crowder's writing is a highlight here. It's spare yet atmospheric. She even writes believably from one of the dogs perspectives, and the dog comes off as much more intelligent than say, Manchee (of Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking series).
Despite many bleak episodes, the story of unlikely friendship between Sarel and Musa is ultimately uplifting.
More about PARCHED.
FTC disclosure: Free from publisher at ALA