H2O | Teen Ink


February 22, 2021
By eshap GOLD, San Ramon, California
eshap GOLD, San Ramon, California
10 articles 1 photo 0 comments

Imagine your whole world changing from just one little rain shower. Imagine not being able to drink water, take a shower, or even go outside. The 2014 novel H2O, written by author Virginia Bergin, tells the story of 15-year-old Ruby who learns how to survive a killer rain. Throughout H2O, Bergin attempts to awaken each and every reader about the struggles that come with life. At one moment things may seem perfect, but they can change in a matter of seconds. Ruby was a normal British teen, partying with her friends, having fun. However, she soon finds herself fighting to survive in a world falling apart. One lesson the story suggests is that people must not take everything for granted. They must appreciate what they have before it turns into what they had. 

The story starts off with Ruby at a party kissing Caspar McCloud. For Ruby, this was the pinnacle of her hopes and dreams–the hot guy she’d had a crush on and flirted with all year was finally kissing her. But, suddenly, the parents of the party host come home in a panic, dragging all of the teens out of the barn and into the kitchen, rambling on and on about the rain. Then, it starts to rain. “The rain—" That's all I remember hearing to begin with. It's in the rain, and everyone staring at the radio as if it was a TV.” (page 20). Ruby, and her friends are shocked to hear that the rainwater is contagious. Caspar, unaware of the dangerous effects of the tragedy, goes outside to retrieve his MP3 player, getting wet. There’s something deadly in the rain. Something that causes people to start bleeding profusely within seconds of contact. Something that turns them into writhing, pain-ridden creatures that claw at their faces before quick, inevitable death. “One minute my life had been the best it had ever been, kissing Caspar McCloud, the next minute it was…” (Page 41). Ruby makes it home. The heartbreaking reality of the situation is that Ruby knew she would never see Caspar again. He’d been infected by the rain, and taken to the hospital, while Ruby was stuck in quarantine issued by her stepfather. Ruby’s relationship with her stepfather was typical enmity. She didn’t quite get what her mother saw in him, and she didn’t  like the fact that he had trapped her in a room.  Ruby soon falls asleep, thoughts of Caspar’s fatalness still in her mind, only to be awoken by the sound of pure terror. “Help!...Our neighbor, Mrs. Fitch, was standing in the rain.” (page 86). Unable to leave the room, Ruby sat in agony as Mrs. Fitch’s wailing continued. It suddenly stopped,  and Ruby looked out the window curious. Her mother as foolish, as considerate as she was had thrown medicine out her bedroom window.  Little did ruby know, that her mother had come in contact with the rain. Ruby had lost a friend, and her mother all in the same day, all because of the rain. 

Struggling to cope with the loss of her mother, Ruby and her stepfather Simon find ways to survive. “State of national emergency declared...Scientists claim bacterium in rain is cause...Symptoms include bleeding, severe pain, nausea…” (page 95). Simon informs Ruby of the new house rules. The two of them can no longer drink tap water, take showers, or urinate in the toilet. Ruby realizes how important those necessities had once been to her. She knew that if she had to survive, she would have to abide to Simon’s rules. Although the radio broadcast informed them to stay at home and wait for help, Ruby and Simon go out for supplies, food, and bottled liquids. Sounds of car alarms and sirens filled Ruby’s landscape. This was unlike anything she had ever experienced. “The parking lot-it wasn’t nice. There were a lot of dead people there. Bodies, bloody, lying about all over.” (page 110). Reality hits Ruby, as she is surrounded by chaos. She realizes her life will no longer go back to normal. She will never see her friends again. She will never live a normal teenage life. Eventually, the two go around looting and raiding abandoned houses. When they think they’ve found a jackpot at one house-filled with tons of water bottles, and canned foods, Simon takes a sip of the water. Instantly, the two realize that it is a trap. Ruby’s last and only companion had come in contact with the water. Ruby was now alone, Simon, her stepfather had taken such good care of her, but now, he was gone. 

Two weeks later, Ruby was still alone. The amount of pain and loss she was feeling sunk in her mind. There was once a time when she and Simon didn’t get along. He was bossy and tried to get her to learn the dumbest things. Usually, he made her roll her eyes till they hurt, but when the rain came down in sheets and there was nothing left in the house to drink, Simon was the one who figured out how to get water. Simon was the only person who’d always been there for her. Anyone who'd been touched by rain or washed their hands with tap water was dead. The only drinkable water was quickly running out. “To my dad, I texted back just in case it would get through: coming to you, Ruby x. I hit send; the message failed.” (Page 144). Ruby decided that her only chance for survival would be a treacherous hike across the country to find her father-if he was still alive. Her father lived in London, not too far away from her. She found a car and started to drive. “I let Darling wander around on the grass while I looked for a flower. I found the perfect one: a single honeysuckle bloom, delicate and sweet-scented. I laid it down on the other flowers, and I asked the fairies, please, to never forget my mom. To show how much I meant it. I left then my tiara. (Page 186). The fairies were Ruby and her mom’s secret. Letting go of her mother would be one of the hardest things Ruby would ever have to do. Letting go would allow her to move forward. It would allow her to continue to find her dad-to stay alive. 

Whether or not Ruby survives the apocalypse is up for the reader to determine. H2O portrays the importance of gratefulness. Throughout the pain and chaos in Ruby’s life, tiny glimpses of hope can be found. By following Ruby’s journey, we can see that at the beginning, she’s a fifteen-year-old who is fully enmeshed in the adolescent world of high school. But as she experiences hugely traumatic events she comes to find that she is utterly alone in a world that seems completely dead. She realizes that life is a gift. She realizes that the people she had in her life were gifts. The gifts she once had, were gone in an instant. The gifts she should’ve cherished were taken by the rain. 

The author's comments:

One lesson the story suggests is that people must not take everything for granted. They must appreciate what they have before it turns into what they had. 

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