Wednesday, November 17, 2010

THE RIVER by Mary Jane Beaufrand

Moving the family to a tiny town in Oregon was supposed to create a safer, simpler life for the Severance family.  Ronnie's Dad was a lawyer in the big city, but nerves and stress have him heavily medicated for depression.  Mom has everyone working to revitalize an old inn she believes will provide income for the family and something a bit less stressful for her husband to do.  Whatever decisions were made by her parents, Ronnie feels left out and totally out of her element in Hoodoo, Oregon.

Ronnie spends most of her free time running.  It occupies her and allows her to spend time along the river, the only attraction in the community that interests her.  When she is not out running or busy helping her mother around the inn, she gets roped into babysitting for a nearby family.  It's not really her thing so she's quite surprised when an odd friendship forms between her and one of the children, a little girl named Karen.

Karen educates Ronnie in the ways of the countryside, especially the river and its wildlife and unpredictable beauty.  Ronnie is amazed at the time she spends with the little girl, and how she comes to appreciate her new surroundings.  Through Karen, Ronnie comes to know some of the locals like Ranger Dave, Gretchen, and Keith Spady.  They are all people she will come to a count on when tragedy strikes.

The day Ronnie discovers little Karen's body in the river, her world is turned upside-down.  The pint-sized adventurer was so accomplished at crossing the river on slippery rocks and skipping stones across its waters that it's hard to believe she met her end there.  Ronnie feels like she failed her small friend when attempts to resuscitate her fail.  Now she is plagued with memories of their short time together and a growing suspicion that her death may not have been an accident.

THE RIVER by Mary Jane Beaufrand is the story of an unusual friendship wrapped up in a mystery.  Filled with frequent flashbacks of Karen's carefree days, Beaufrand weaves the stories of the two girls together.  Other interesting characters and surprise twists will keep readers on their toes as they follow Ronnie's efforts to find justice for her friend.

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