Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"River's Call" Review

River’s Call by Melody Carlson was sent to me as an advanced review copy from Abingdon Press through NetGalley. It is the second in the “Inn at Shining Waters” series by this author.

At the end of the first book in this series, River’s Song, Anna finally found peace: on the river, and with her life. She had a new husband and a newly opened inn on her beloved Siuslaw River.

But now Anna’s peace will be somewhat disturbed with the arrival of her college-age daughter, Lauren, and the coming turbulent era of the 1960s. Lauren has been spoiled her entire life by Anna’s mother-in-law, and that lack of discipline is about to rear its ugly head.

Lauren returns to the river to live with Anna and seems to be making improvements, but some romantic entanglements bring out anger and resentment in Lauren, who returns to her mother-in-law, leaving Anna wondering where she went wrong.

As the years pass, Lauren deals with her own defiant teenager, and a new crisis will cause everyone to rethink what should be most important in life.

When I read and reviewed River’s Song, the first in this series, I enjoyed it. The novel grew on me as it went along. The peaceful setting and Anna’s growth throughout the book caused me to be fond of it, and I gave it a pretty good review.

But for some reason, I didn’t enjoy River’s Call as much as I did the first book. Although most of it takes place on the river again, it just didn’t have that peaceful feel to it. There was so much tension and anger among the characters. The first half of the book moved along at a good pace, but the second half seemed a bit disjointed since it jumped ahead years at a time rather randomly.

The plot of the novel was fine, even interesting, but I kept getting tripped up by the apathy displayed by some of the characters. The main point of the novel seemed to be that we all have to learn to “paddle our own canoe.” I agree with this to a point. When children grow up and leave home (and to some degrees before they are out of our homes), they need to learn to be self-sufficient and to make decisions for themselves. However, they need to be taught how to do this before they have to go out and do it themselves! It seemed as if the parents in this novel just left their kids to their own devices. Or they left them to be raised by an overindulgent mother-in-law, and then they wondered where they went wrong when their kids went astray. One parent in this novel even says this (referring to a teenager becoming pregnant before marriage): “These things happen, Anna. Usually there’s nothing a parent can do to stop it. Kids will be kids.”

I realize that I am making a big deal over something that maybe should not be such a big deal in a fiction book. I also realize that you can do everything right as a parent, and your children can still make bad decisions. It just seemed that the parents in the novel felt as if they had nowhere to turn to raise their children. While I don’t expect Christian novels to preach on every page (sometimes it’s more enjoyable when they don’t), it just seemed as if there was a real disconnect between the characters’ faith in God and their everyday lives. They prayed when they needed help, but they didn’t turn to God and the Bible to learn how to live their lives. Therefore, they felt they had nowhere to turn for help in raising their children, and they pretty much just left them adrift. This apathetic attitude toward God and parenting greatly decreased my overall enjoyment of this novel.

One part of the story that I did like was the restoration of the relationship between Anna and her mother-in-law. The selflessness on the part of Anna was remarkable, and it was an excellent example of forgiving as Christ forgave us. I also really appreciated the relationship between Anna and her granddaughter, Sarah. I like how they felt a kinship to each other, to the river, and to their Native American ancestry.

I enjoyed the main plot of this novel, but, unfortunately, I did not like the way it ended. It was abrupt and left too much open to be completed in the next novel.

While there were some things that kept me from fully enjoying this novel, the main plot was enough to keep me going and to want to see what happens in the next chapter of the “Inn at Shining Waters” series.

I will give River's Call ... 2 ½ BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Abingdon Press through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

No comments:

Post a Comment