In Waterfall , a new young adult novel by Lisa Tawn Bergren, Gabi Betarrini, a 17-year-old American girl, meets a knight in shining armor who saves her from great danger.
He is handsome, smart, brave, and everything Gabi has ever dreamed of — except he lives in medieval times and literally is a real knight.
As they do every other summer, Gabi and her sister, Lia, follow their archeologist mother to Tuscany, Italy, in search of Etruscan  artifacts and frescoes. Out of boredom and curiosity, the two girls stray from the usual paths and sneak inside an ancient Etruscan tomb. They find two handprints that match theirs. Gabi and Lia place their hands on the prints and are transported to the 14the century, one of the most perilous times in European history.
Gabi can’t find her sister anywhere near the tomb. Through the time warp, she appears right in the middle of a battlefield where two armies, the Forellis and the Paratores, fiercely fight. Lord Marcello of Forrelli comes to her rescue, but Gabi is worried about the safety of her younger sister.
Part historical fiction, part action and adventure, part fantasy, Waterfall is an engaging read for young adults and adult readers who like teen fiction. Bergren creates well-drawn characters who are memorable. Gabi is a strong heroine who is funny and brave and will take unexpected actions. I like the way she applies her 21st-century knowledge to help the residents of the Forrelli Castle.
As a child of professor parents, our sword-wielding heroine knows poetry well and how to entertain an audience with it, too. For me, this is the most delightful part of the story. The then-contemporary poet Dante Alighieri  and his Divine Comedy make a cameo.
Marcello is entranced by Gabi’s beauty and spunk and Gabi is drawn by Marcello’s kindness and chivalry. But countless obstacles stand between the two. Gabi thinks that as a girl she should be allowed to fight with a sword along with men, but Marcello is not used to seeing women fight in a battle. Lady Rossi, Marcello’s pretty fiancée, a snobby girl from a wealthy and powerful family, doesn’t want Gabi anywhere near Marcello. As the story progresses, the relationship between Gabi, Marcello, and Lady Rossi becomes somewhat like a bittersweet love triangle.
Will Gabi find Lia? Can Gabi and Marcello reconcile their differences and ever be together as a couple? Can Gabi find a way to get back to her home and family in the twenty-first century? If she can, will she make that decision even if that means leaving Marcello behind?
Lisa Tawn Bergren  is a prolific author of contemporary romances and historical fiction. Waterfall is her first YA book. I like the fact that she did a thorough research on Italian history by travelling to Tuscany several times and exploring the archeological sites mentioned in her books. Told in first-person narrative, Waterfall has the authentic voice of a real teenager. Bergren said in her interview that she has two teenage daughters who read and contribute their suggestions, in addition to her focus groups that give feedback on the novel.
Gabi’s favorite quote is, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the decision that something is more important than that fear.” Despite fear, she decides to protect and serve others. I truly enjoyed reading every page of this book and highly recommend it. Waterfall is the first book in the River of Time trilogy, which includes Cascade  and Torrent .
Waterfall book trailer:
About the Author
Sukalaya Kenworthy is a senior library assistant at the Westport Branch. To join the Inspirational Book Group, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org  or call 816.701.3488 for more information. The group meets the third Wednesday of the month at 4:30 p.m.