Tuesday, December 4, 2012

{read: escaping the past} This Bright River by Patrick Somerville

A reader review on Amazon described this as both thrilling and boring, and I have to agree. While the prose is readable and drew me in quickly, the meandering story arc threatened to lose me in the middle.

Ben and Lauren barely knew each other in high school. Now they both have complicated, checkered pasts and have returned to the town where they went to high school as they try to move forward and embark upon the next chapters of their lives. One of many questions they wrestle with is whether their next steps will be together or apart. Yet the past, of course, is not really over and threatens to destroy the present.

After some drug- and alcohol-inducted rants in the middle of the book which nearly lost me in their length and reduced me to skimming, this book turns into a thriller before wrapping up on a softer note. The transitions in tone were a little jarring, although the thriller section did keep me turning the pages. The author also alternates first-person POV and nearly lost me the first time he did it. I suspect that was a criticism many others had offered, as after I had re-read the first few paragraphs of the chapter several times and finally gave up and read on in confusion, he noted the change of POV in parentheses.

For me, one of the most interesting things about the book was its setting in southeastern Wisconsin, where I live. That part was spot-on. I loved the mention of the apothecary with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle parked outside, as that could have happened in my small town.

This Bright River by Patrick Somerville (Reagan Arthur Books, 2011)
My rating: 3 stars

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