Dry Summary

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman is a young adult novel about a group of teens dealing with the effects of a water crisis called the Tap-Out.

  • When access to water is shut off across California, Alyssa Morrow and her younger brother, Garrett, go looking for their parents along with their neighbor Kelton.
  • Joined by a drifter named Jacqui and a boy named Henry, they drive toward Kelton’s family’s emergency shelter but find it empty of supplies.
  • Henry betrays the others, who are saved from dehydration and forest fires by a water bomber. After the Tap-Out, the Morrow family is reunited.


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Last Updated on October 13, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1109

Dry takes place in California over the course of six days. Teenager Alyssa Morrow lives in a suburban neighborhood with her parents, her uncle Basil, and her younger brother, Garrett. The television informs them that the state of California is to undergo a catastrophic drought for an indefinite period of time, referred to as the “Tap-Out.” None of the taps in the state of California yield will water any longer. That same afternoon, Alyssa, Garrett, and their uncle Basil drive to Costco to stock up. The store is all out of water, but luckily, Alyssa has the idea to fill up their cart with sacks of ice.

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Kelton McCracken, Alyssa’s next-door neighbor, helps her plug their downstairs bathtub with sealant. There, they store the bags of ice. Kelton then brags about how his father has prepared them well for the Tap-Out.

On the second day, Richard McCracken, Kelton’s father, has a tense conversation with one of the neighbors, who tries to convince Richard to share his resources with the rest of the neighborhood. At night, Alyssa catches her uncle Basil leaving in his pickup truck. He reasons that he doesn’t want to deplete their resources.

On the third day, Garrett accidentally drops bleach inside their bathtub of ice water. Mr. and Mrs. Morrow prepare to leave for Laguna Beach, where the government has set up desalination machines to convert seawater to drinkable water.

Richard has a heated exchange with a neighbor who has come to him for water, and Kelton shoots the neighbor with his paintball gun before the situation can escalate. At dinner that night, Richard and his wife, Marybeth, fight over whether to share their resources with the neighbors. Meanwhile, Kelton goes to check on Alyssa and Garrett.

At the Morrows’, the power suddenly goes out. Kelton realizes that the power outage extends to the whole neighborhood–except for his house, which has its own generator. He retrieves a handgun from under his bed and stays the night with Alyssa and Garrett.

On the fourth day, Alyssa, Garret, and Kelton decide to bike to Laguna Beach and search for Mr. and Mrs. Morrow. The three are astonished to find the beach deserted, with military personnel guarding the broken desalination machines. They then try to rescue a middle-aged man from three teenagers who want the keys to his BMW. In the midst of the altercation, a strange girl appears and takes hold of Kelton’s gun. She uses it to scare away the perpetrators and obtain the man’s keys. Spotting the infected wound on her arm, Kelton offers to give the girl antibiotics if she drives them home.

The strange girl introduces herself as Jacqui. The four use the man’s BMW to drive back to the McCrackens’, where Kelton convinces his parents to shelter Alyssa, Garrett, and Jacqui. With Marybeth’s blessing, Alyssa smuggles a bag full of water bottles to the neighborhood meeting. There, she sees how the adults fight over her water.

At dinner, Richard announces that he, Marybeth, and Kelton will be leaving for their bug-out–an emergency shelter–at daybreak. On Kelton’s insistence, Richard agrees to leave the house to Alyssa and the others. A text alert then informs them that the state of California has been placed under martial law.

(The entire section contains 1109 words.)

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