Featured Review: The River's Edge by Tina Sears
About this book:
Forced to spend the summer of 1976 with relatives, Chris Morgan faces many challenges. Her mom and dad are splitting up and she hates being away from them. Now she has to make some tough choices about what she knows is right or giving in to the expectations of her new friends. Surrounded by the danger of the river and the shadows of her uncle’s past, Chris realizes her carefree childhood is ending.
*Review Contributed by Beth Rodgers, Staff
Hauntingly Telling Read
'The River's Edge' by Tina Sears is a hauntingly telling read, with powerful descriptions. Readers will find their emotions stirred and their consciences wracked as they struggle to understand main character Chris' position and how she will cope with the losses she finds herself encountering during a summer meant to be fun and carefree. Between her parents' impending divorce and her desire to fit in, she deals with startling truths that no person, young or old, should ever have to find themselves saddled with.The story started off slow but picked up very quickly, throwing readers into the summer of 1976. Chris' mother takes her to live with her Aunt Lori and Uncle Butch and their two girls, Wendy and Paige. Chris becomes fast friends with the girls and spends her time trying to get into the inner circle of friends that Wendy used to have and still longs to be a part of. Julie is the head of this group, and Chris finds that trying to impress Julie gives her a sense of belonging. The inner circle brings her moments of despair as well, though, when she realizes that looking older and doing risky things like smoking and drinking are not all they are cracked up to be. Her relationships with her cousin Wendy and friend Julie lead her into the previously unknown territory of boys, and she enjoys the attention, much to her later chagrin.Chris' journey is one of self-discovery, as she navigates the tricky waters of self-esteem, self-worth, and the courage it takes to be stronger than you ever thought you needed to be. The story is often written with simple words, but they serve as a subtle reminder of a simpler time, when life shouldn't have been difficult, but still found a way to be. Many a lesson can be learned through Sears' compelling writing, including how even those who have people to confide in can get swept up in feelings of loneliness and alienation. Hiding inside one's own body and mind is a scary concept that no one should feel they have to deal with alone. It was hinted at that there was the possibility that Chris was not alone in her troubles and that her cousins and friends could have even been navigating the same murky waters that Chris found herself constantly treading. It would have been nice to hear if these were just thoughts Chris had or if there were even shreds of truth to them. However, the uncertainty creates a compelling wonderment that would not exist otherwise. It also shows how Chris, who often feels alone, can find solace in but a few words that a friend of hers in the story plainly states: "You can see everything. Or you can see nothing at all." There are no truer words, especially when it comes to questioning oneself and others, and knowing when to speak up and forget about burying one's head in the sand. Sears' debut novel packs a punch and engages readers with real-life issues that many teens, and even many adults, face. A definite title to add to any contemporary young adult fan's reading list.
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