So much to say and so little space to say it! I just realized how much I had going on at the original "From the Cheap Seats" and decided to start a little cousin blog. This blog will focus on book reviews and writings of a more creative nature.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Book Review: The River, by Moonlight by Camille Marchetta

Publisher: Virtual Bookworm
359 pages
Available at Amazon

Loss is something that each and every one of us will feel during some point in our lives. Some, more than others. Often, after a loss, we are left with questions that rage around inside a flurry of emotions. Why?

When someone we love takes his or her own life, those questions are like fists pounding against a brick wall. Each question brings on the agonizing "what ifs" and "if onlys." The damage to the spirit is only compounded by the searing pain over never really knowing the why.

Camille Marchetta explores the tragedy of loss through the revealing journey into the lives, emotions, and thoughts of those who are most impacted by loss--those who are left behind. It is a painful and agonizing journey at times, but with Marchetta's talent for exploring grief and loss while maintaining a essence of hope, the story becomes a testament to not only the frailties of human nature, but also to the strength of the human spirit.

The story opens with a simple phone call. A call that no parent should ever have to endure. There has been an accident. A valiant attempt by a vagrant to save a young woman fails as she falls into New York City's Hudson River. Mystery shrouds the beautiful young artists death. Was it an accident or did Lily Canning take her own life? Those left behind, including her mother, her best friend, her ex-husband, and a family friend, are left to wrestle with not only the loss of Lily, but also with the reasons why a young woman with immense talent, beauty and so much promise would quite possibly take her own life.

Marchetta is exceptionally gifted at delving into the lives of her characters and exploring not only who they are as individuals, but also who they are within the context of the story and the central character, Lily. Each chapter is told by a different character. Although she tells each of their stories in third person, there is no doubt that each character possesses his or her own voice. I found this to be a powerful and effective aspect to Marchetta's story telling. One of my biggest frustrations as a reader is to lose out on learning more about the characters within a work. Who are they? Where did they come from? What are their experiences? I don't need the minutiae, but I do appreciate the details that help enrich the story and thus my experience as a reader.

"This time, with the name, images of her daughter came flooding into Henrietta's mind, not recent images, but ones of Lily as a baby, beautiful from the moment of her birth, with a long slender body, elegant fingers and toes, silky dark hair, and perfect features [ . . . ]She was an eager, curious toddler, a rambunctious youngster, not really frail at all[ . . . ] There was such a look of impermanence about her; so pale, so ethereal did she seem, it was hard to believe that she had come to stay."

As a mother, I found this rather prescient passage to be emotionally powerful. Parents often journey into the past with their memories. And loss only makes this journey more compelling. Marchetta tugs at a reader's curiosity and natural empathy with her her words. And her characters work to bring those words to life.

I was moved by this novel in ways I had not expected. Once again, The River, by Moonlight, a tragic story set in the early 20th century is not one I would typically choose. although Marchetta cleverly interweaves the complexities of the time period with the lives of the characters, it is the emotional journey that draws in the reader. I read this one in one night. One night. Although I am rather exhausted this early Wednesday morning, I have absolutely no regrets.

Marchetta's style is easy and not bogged down with superfluous language and details, for which I am grateful. There are questions left to be answered even after you read Lily's chapter, which takes place only hours before her death. Marchetta provides some level of closure as the novel comes to close by taking readers five years into the future. However, Marchetta clearly knows that life is simply not that easy and still as you turn the last page you are left pondering not only the true impact of Lily's death on those who knew her best, but also on the questions that remain long after we are gone.

This book review has been brought to you by Blog Stop Book Tours.

Book Giveaway Winner
Kristen from Loving Our Simple Life!
Thanks to all those who entered.


Angela said...

Looks like a great book! I would love to read this!

LiteralDan said...

Hmmm... I've never thought about it, but I'd say chocolate-chip raisin cookies.

CamilleMarchetta said...

Your review makes me want to pull a Sally Field, leap up out of my chair, wave my (laptop) computer around and shout, She likes it! She really likes it! Instead, I'll just say thank you, thank you.And, if you'd like to keep your copy of River, let me know the name and address of the contest winner and I'll happily put a new, autographed copy in the mail.

By the way, my favorite comfort food is peanut butter. It's great for fighting writer's block.

All the best,


Killlashandra said...

My favorite comfort food, I'm not even sure anymore. I used to enjoy a number of sweets for comfort food but I could never keep them in the house long enough to ever enjoy them as my kids eat everything. Although chocolate chips area always nice. :)

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Hostess Snoballs without a doubt (although Thin Mints and Milanos are a very close 2nd and 3rd!)

Hallie :)

Anonymous said...

sounds like a good read. fav comfort food? besides choclate? peanut butter graham crackers!

Kami said...

This sounds really good but heartwrenching. I love me a good heart wrenching book every now and then.

My favourite comfort food? That's a hard one...going to say chips and dip today...but tomorrow it would be chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream

Jules said...

Once again, a really nice review. Great job L. :)

April said...

I go in cycles, but right now it's Doritos.
How sweet of you to give your beloved copy away.

Colleen said...

I have an incredible weakness for chocolate teddy grahams. ((I'm hanging my head in shame at the thought of all the times I've told myself I was buying them "for the kids". Ha!))

Wendi said...

Fabulous review!
Thanks for sharing.
Comfort foods....hmmmmm!
Anything salty.
Chips and dip.
Chips and salsa.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Sounds like a great book.
My favorite comfort foods? Chicken & dumplings.
Fried chicken.
Homemade fudge.

Alyce said...

My favorite comfort foods are nachos and doughnuts.

Bunchy said...

Yep, sign me up. Comfort food? I'm a sucker for really hot, salty fries. Or...mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Kristen said...

I love your book reviews and giveaways!

Don't worry about cluttering my inbox, I am so about doing this!

Comfort food- hmmmmm. Does a starbucks hot chocolate count. I loving drinking it extra hot so it lasts a long time while looking through magazines. I am thinking it would work for great books too!