As If I Were A River, by Amanda Saint
Urbane Publications, 4/14/16
Years ago, while working towards my undergraduate degree, one of my professors assigned the book The Women Who Broke All the Rules: How the Choices of a Generation Changed Our Lives, by Joan Avis, Ph.D. and Susan Evans Ed.D. That non-fiction novel held a variety of personal stories of women of the baby-boom era who challenged societal norms of growing up, getting married, and making babies, and went their own way. As I read Amanda Saint’s new novel, As If I Were A River, I was reminded of that book I was assigned so long ago and how it represented changing roles of women. To say that this was an outstanding novel would be an understatement!
Narrated by alternating characters, As If I Were A River tells the stories of Laura, Ken, Kate, Jules, and Una. Kate’s perspective is during present-day and begins with Kate’s husband going missing. Kate’s younger sister Jules comes to be with her sister and tries to offer support and guidance as her sister endures a downward spiral in reaction to her husband’s disappearance. Laura’s perspective is from her late teen years into adulthood, many years ago, and paints the picture of Laura’s whirlwind life changes and her later realizations that she wanted more out of life. Una does narrate a few chapters in the form of letters, but much of what we learn about Una comes from Laura’s chapters and perspectives from both her and Ken. I found myself both loving and hating several of the characters at different points in the novel, which honestly, is like real life. These characters go through the good and bad, make good decisions, and make poor decisions. Some topics and issues addressed throughout this novel include:
- Family relationships and dynamics
- Women’s roles
- And so much more!
Throughout this novel you find yourself relating to and empathizing with characters at one point, and at other times, you feel frustrated due to their personal decisions and actions. This is absolutely a book you will start and finish the same day because the author draws you in almost immediately. My only feedback that is not positive is the ending! Not trying to spoil anything for anyone, but when I came to the end I actually yelled out, “What?? No way that’s it!” I kept touching the screen on my iPad, thinking there had to be more pages and something was wrong, but alas, there were not. However, now that I’ve had more time to reflect on the novel, I’ve decided that OK, maybe that was the right time to wrap everything up…. I will just have to imagine in my mind what happened next, years later, etc! Regardless of the ending, I highly recommend this novel, especially to women that want to read something insightful and unique – it is a wonderful novel!
Disclaimer: I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a positive review.