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Tomorrow River

A book by Lesley Kagen.

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A heart-warming story of a very determined little girl

  • Jul 19, 2010

I have trouble getting into some books--they just don't beckon me to pick them up every day. This one was not one of those. From the day I started Tomorrow River, I was swept up into this story, which is part family saga, part heartbreaking drama, part light comedy and part mystery. I love a story with a little of everything, and this most definitely delivered.

Without a doubt, the character that stood out the most was Shenny (Shenandoah), one of a set of pre-teen twin girls who are the story's main characters. While Shenny and Woody are twins, they are very different people. Woody is artistic and emotionally sensitive/fragile, while Shenny is bolder, tougher and most definitely mouthier! :) Shenny is a big personality, and most of the comedic moments of the book come from her observations about the people who inhabit her town in Virginia or her own family. Let's just say that if Shenny lived by the motto "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything," she wouldn't have much to say! :)

The writing is very homespun. There are lots of folky sayings, the type of which you may have heard from your Grandma, especially if you are from the South. I thought the book was very well written and enjoyed how the author brought her characters to life. I must admit that the places in the story never quite came to life for me the way the people did, but the characters are definitely well-drawn.

I loved the fierceness of Shenny's character...her fierce love for her parents (loving her abusive father well past the point when most readers will be able to understand it), her fierce devotion and protectiveness of her weaker twin, and her fierce determination to find her missing mother. You can't help but admire her.

I was reminded of other books as I read this--most especially The Secret Life of Bees (in that both Lily and Shenny had missing mamas and abusive daddies and they both go in search of their mothers)--but also a little bit of The Help, in regard to the time period and the racial culture of the time, etc.

The derivative nature of the book--the fact that it kept reminding me of other books--took my rating down just a notch. What mostly took my rating from 5 to 4 stars (since Amazon doesn't allow me to give it 4 1/2 stars) is that I felt my eyes rolling toward the end, when everything gets wrapped up in a nice shiny package with a big fluffy bow. I'm not saying that how things came out couldn't happen, just that the transition between the rest of the book (which is NOT a happy story for the most part) and the ending (which is fairy tale happy) felt too abrupt to me.

Still highly recommended...a good read and a fast read.

A heart-warming story of a very determined little girl

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July 19, 2010
Nice review, Sheri!
More Tomorrow River reviews
review by . April 29, 2010
Kagan has written a terrible tale of loyalty, betrayal and murder, twin sisters in the Shenandoah Valley coping in their own ways with the disappearance of their mother the summer of 1968. Now it is the following summer and Woody has been mute since that night, unwilling or unable to speak, maybe carrying secrets that no child should ever harbor. Shenny Carmody is the more practical of the two, at twelve a self-professed "daddy's girl" who finds excuses for her father's increasing cruelty towards …
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Sheri ()
Ranked #69
I have been a customer reviewer on Amazon.com for well over a decade and an Amazon Vine reviewer since the program began. I enjoy writing product reviews that will help customers make a buying decision. … more
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Starred Review. Set during the summer of '69 in rural Virginia, Kagen's stellar third novel, her first in hardcover, chronicles the dramatic changes in the lives of 11-year-old Shenny Carmody and her twin sister, Woody, nearly a year after their mother's disappearance. Woody hasn't spoken since, and their father, a renowned judge, spends most of his nights in a drunken stupor at Lilyfield, their Rockbridge County estate, often turning violent and cruel toward his two daughters. Shenny, adventurous and bright, takes it upon herself to locate their beloved Mama and discover why she left them. In her quest for the truth, Shenny learns many heart-wrenching lessons, not least among them that first impressions can be dead wrong. Kagen (Whistling in the Dark) not only delivers a spellbinding story but also takes a deep look into the mores, values, and shams of a small Southern community in an era of change.(May)
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Book, Lesley Kagen


ISBN-10: 0525951547
ISBN-13: 978-0525951544
Author: Lesley Kagen
Publisher: Dutton Adult

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