Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: The River Within

The River Within
The River Within by Baxter Clare Trautman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please note: I read this book in June 2011 from a copy I received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My Synopsis: “The River Within” focuses on the lives of Greer Madison – a war journalist who has covered the ‘Stan beat for decades and who was recently involved in a situation where she was seriously injured and a young woman, a photojournalist, who was with her was killed – and Darlene, Doug and Katie Richardson, whose son (Darlene and Doug) and brother (Katie) Christopher recently died while serving in the Middle East as a corpsman for a group of Marines. Darlene knows exactly how Christopher died, but refuses to tell Doug and Katie, and mourns Christopher with an obsessiveness that is driving the rest of her family away. Greer, by contacting the men that Christopher was serving with, has also discovered exactly how he died and tries repeatedly to get Darlene to tell her family the truth. The story is so much more than that, though – it is a poignant journey into the hearts and minds of a group of people who are grieving, for different reasons and in different ways, and by doing so are each cutting themselves off from those who might help them.

My Thoughts: I was amazed by how much I loved this book; I’m not normally one to enjoy something with so much pathos, but this story engaged me from the first page and refused to let me go. The characters are all accessible, even when behaving in a manner that made me what to smack them, and carefully crafted and drawn to create a bond between them and the reader. Baxter Clare Trautman has done an amazing job in creating a story that walks the fine line between hope and despair, growth and stagnation, and I believe that almost anyone would take something great from this story.

Characters: One thing I particularly liked is that such a variety of people are included in the story. Greer is a self-described lesbian; Katie’s best friend Anthony is gay; Darlene and Doug have distinctly different, but compatible, personalities. We never actually meet Christopher, but get to know him through his letters home, which are sprinkled throughout the book and which provide us a very accurate portrayal of his personality and how it has changed through his time in the Middle East.

Issues: The only problem I saw throughout the book was some issues with copy editing – there were a lot of instances of the misuse of “your/you’re” and possessives that should have been caught by a careful copy editor. This is, unfortunately, quite common among modern publishers and it is rare you find a book without these sorts of issues.

Recommendations: I highly recommend this book for anyone who can get their hands on it. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up – it’s a keeper!

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