Friday, April 18, 2008

"After River" Donna Milner

If I had to describe my idea of a perfect afternoon I think that I would say it would involve curling up in a comfortable lawn chair in the sunshine reading a good book. It's been gorgeous in my neck of the woods lately, with temperatures in the 20's and an abundance of sunshine, so while my fiance' rides his quad with the "boys" every evening, I've been taking the kids outside to play. Our backyard has enough room for my three kids to run around but still be within sight, so while they smash their cars and chase the birds (my 1-year-old love this game the best), I've been reading. Ahhhh....reading...nothing can be wrong in the world when there is a good book at hand.

This week I took a look at the books I had on hand and decided to give "After River" by Donna Milner a try. This book begins as 15-year-old Natalie Ward and her mother meet the free-spirited River, a young man who is going to be the new farmhand on the Ward's dairy farm. As he walks over the hill towards their house Natalie can feel change entering the air. River touches all those around with his open smile and his free-thinking. His essence seems to permeate the air around him.

We find out a bit about Natalie's family, and then the book flashes to the present. It's 34 years later and we find out that Natalie's mother is dying, and that Natalie needs to make the trip home to Atwood to see her before she passes away. Natalie is reluctant at best to return to a place that she has been avoiding for so many years- she makes trips back to Atwood only occasionally to see her daughter, Jenny, or to attend a family funeral. She's not excited to be heading back, and although her husband (her third) tries to accompany her, Natalie refuses his company. Natalie has left secrets behind in Atwood, and they're ones that she's not ready to let go of.

The rest of the book shifts effortlessly from past to present, and slowly all of Natalie's secrets are revealed. I really don't want to say much more about the book, because figuring out what's going to happen is really the best part. I predicted most of the things that were going to happen early on, but just because it was a bit predictable didn't make it any less delicious! Enjoyable and scandalous, reading this book was almost like indulging in a guilty pleasure, and by the end, I literally couldn't put it down. A great spring read!

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