The River by Mary Jane Beaufrand; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The River

Author: Mary Jane Beaufrand

Published: Jan 10, 2010 by Little Brown*

Number of Pages: 224

Rating: 2/5

Review Sent to Little Brown:

A plaguing tale of secret agendas and jarring realities, THE RIVER is certain to draw you in and envelope you in its treacherous waters. While not remarkably unlike much YA literature out there, it is unique in that it’s driven by atmosphere and the disturbing natural qualities of rural Oregon, which may appear harmless at first until they begin to remind you that even mellow currents and plopping raindrops can be witness to horrific acts. Though not a favorite, it was worth the read simply to be engrossed in the world of THE RIVER.

Review:

As I said, the review above is the one I emailed to the publishers, and I’ve decided to write a more thorough review here.

I began reading The River in December, determined to read and review it before it was published. As I always am, I was wary to begin. I had no idea whether the reading would be worth my while, and, as I tend to, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. I began and dunked my head beneath the waters of The River.

The River is a story set in Oregon. The main character, a sixteen year old girl named Ronnie (nickname for Veronica), is in the midst of adapting to life outside busy Portland. Her parents, much to her disapproval, decided to move out to Hoodoo to fix-up and maintain an old bed and breakfast that was left to her mom years before. Ronnie, artistic and troubled, finds a friend in a little girl named Karen – whose parents sell kids… of the goat variety. When Karen’s body winds up in the nearby river, Ronnie’s attention is caught, and she becomes engrossed in discovering what really happened to her buddy.

I can assure you, the finding of the Karen is horrific. I was in complete shock throughout the scene, and I guarantee anyone else who reads The River will be, too. Luckily, instead of completely disgusting me and enticing me to toss the book away, the gruesome death drove me forward through the book. All I wanted was for the truth to be discovered.

Ronnie acts just as the classic teenager in YA books. She’s all angst-y and semi-mope-y. Her best friend is her iPod and she has a crush on the “coolest” boy at Hoodoo High, home of the most ridiculous mascot ever. I liked her enough to want her to “win” in the end, but I can’t say she was very unique or fascinating. There was nothing spectacular about the way she went about things, and many times I found that I was unraveling the mystery a lot faster than she was – which shouldn’t have been the case, as the book is in first person.

I mentioned in my other review that “… [The River] is unique in that it’s driven by atmosphere…”, which is a major focal point of the book. I loved and admire the way Ms. Beaufrand wove so much of the environment into the story. Occasionally, there are italicized flashbacks, when Ronnie reflects on something she did with Karen or that Karen said, and we are able to familiarize with the poor kid. Karen herself was such a little explorer that we have multiple opportunities to “walk through the setting”.

I did not like the multiple unveilings of the bad side of teenage nature. I know it’s a pet-peeve of mine, but I honestly can’t help but dislike it when books portray teenagers as a single being when it comes to interests and morals. For the record: We are not all the same. There were multiple scenes that made me uncomfortable. Of course, I made excuses at times, decent ones, too, because there are teens out there that are similar to the few portrayed in the book. I suppose I usually search for books that either make me fall in love with one or more of the characters, or books that have characters that I can look up to. This book had neither. Luckily, one of the more “wrong” characters came around in the end, and I like to see people evolve.

I have to commend Mary Jane Beaufrand for her ability to freak me out a bit. I can’t say I was scared out of my wits, but I was certainly disturbed. She kind of worried and picked at you without your even noticing it, funnily enough.

Overall, I thought The River was okay, and I do believe there will be people out there who absolutely love it. I’m sure that as I work the Library Assistant job at school, I’ll see this book being checked out!

Now, I’m off to read Leviathan, make cheese cake, watch a documentary called “Nazi America: A Secret History” (I’m finally becoming interested in history, after years and years of not caring much), and maybe write an email to a pen pal that I’ve been neglecting terribly!

Happy reading!

*Thanks to Little Brown for the Advanced Reader’s Copy!

3 Commentsto “The River by Mary Jane Beaufrand; Review”

  1. LOL! Enjoy your history documentary! And also happy reading. 😀

  2. Really I thought you always liked history since you seem to only read books from a long time ago.

  3. Hey i really liked the book:)

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