This summer, for my summer reading book, I choose to read Dry, by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman. This book, set sometime in the future, details the events following a massive drought and subsequent water shortage in California.
Throughout the book, the authors illustrate the power dynamics at play within this water shortage. Those who have water have the power; those who do not are at the mercy of those who do.
While this is a central and reccuring theme throughout the book, it is most clearly demonstrated in Chapter 18, regarding a character named Henry. While everyone scrambles for the little water left in the area, Henry has a stockpile of water bottles in his home, and has been trading this water to his neighbors in return for expensive items. Henry holds all of the power in these negotiations; he does not need his neighbors’ items, but they need his water. When one of his neighbors makes a deal he doesn’t like, Henry acts as if the negotiation has ended and says, “If you’re not serious about this, I’m gonna have to ask you to leave” (Shusterman 188). Instantly, the neighbor scrambles to give Henry what he wants, so that he can gain access to the precious water Henry has to offer.
Henry and his negotiations are just one example of the power dynamics that play out throughout the book. Dry is an example of how important systems and dynamics of power are to storytelling, and how nearly every story is connected to power structures in one way or another.