Peace I Ask of Thee, Oh River is the story of a troubled girl, Tiffin who attends summer camp. While at camp, Tiffin makes life miserable for all concerned. One camp counselor, El Campbell, realizes that there must be a cause for Tiffin's disruptive behavior and depression. In her attempts to get to the bottom of the trouble, El uncovers the facts about the death of the girl's younger sister, who drowned a year or so earlier. Some of the other girls think Tiffin killed her sister. In reaching out to Tiffin, El discovers some things about herself as well.
By turns captivating and nerve-wracking, Peace I Ask of Thee, Oh River addresses some compelling issues. On the one hand, the novel masquerades as a coming of age story about some high school graduates having their first job as camp counselors in the summer before college and dealing with teen issues of sex, drugs and alcohol. On the other hand, it also deals with deeper issues such as suicide, sibling grief, guilt, anger, rejection, abnormal behavior, denial, and bullying, which the author handles in an expert fashion.
In particular, Tiffin's family provoked me since they were in denial of the child's need for serious help, dismissing her behavioral problems as "minor" and rejecting her by placing her in summer camp for six weeks while they went on the campaign trail.
Peace I Ask of Thee, Oh River certainly deals with some very interesting questions. While the reading level is suitable for ages 9 thru 12, the subject matter does handle some mature themes that may not be appropriate for this younger age group. Recommended for ages 15 and up if you like fast-moving, dramatic, thought provoking novels dealing with real issues and depicting real characters that you can care about.